Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Obit” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,013 ratings  ·  196 reviews
After her mother died, poet Victoria Chang refused to write elegies. Rather, she distilled her grief during a feverish two weeks by writing scores of poetic obituaries for all she lost in the world. In Obit, Chang writes of "the way memory gets up after someone has died and starts walking." These poems reinvent the form of newspaper obituary to both name what has died ("ci ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Copper Canyon Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Obit, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Obit

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,013 ratings  ·  196 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Obit
Elyse  Walters
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Time magazine wrote a beautiful description of this book—
It expresses ‘Obit’ better than I ever could for this compassionate and genre-defying powerful distillation of the experience of understanding and acceptance; of triumph over death—over grief.
‘Obit’ is stunningly powerful—gorgeous—
masterfully thought provoking-deeply reflective—emotional—
with writing that could have only come from one’s most honest core of the soul’s truth. ... Victoria Chang finds solace and hope through her very
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, recs, poetry
a moving collection of poems about the death of the author's parents, gathering together "scores of poetic obituaries" for all Chang lost with her mother and father, from the abstract (optimism, approval) to the concrete (a voicemail, a clock). ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-poetry
Obit is not a book to read in one sitting. It would be too hard on the heart, I think. Even reading this book over the course of several days, these anti-elegies in the face of reckless loss, constellated by tankas and a stream of sonnets flowing down the middle, these obits for teeth and affection, for guilt and time, for America and dresses, left me windless. Victoria Chang artfully tests the capacity of metaphor as she writes about her father's failing health, her mother's dying, the in-betwe ...more
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In her collection Obit, Victoria Chang takes the journalistic standard we call an obituary and puts it through some poetic paces. For most of the book, each poem looks like a column in a newspaper, forgoing stanzas for one tall rectangular block. And while the starting point may be the stroke and death of her father followed by the death of her mother, her poems take matters a step further.

How? The Table of Contents foreshadows how: Title-less poems commemorate her father’s frontal lobe, voice
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“The way we assume all tears taste the same. The way our sadness is plural, but grief is singular.”
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this poetry collection about dealing with her mother’s death and her father’s devastating stroke. They are mostly written in the form of obituaries to the people and things in her life that were irreparably changed by those two events.
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know if I should have read this in the state that I’m in currently.

I don’t regret it however.

This is different from any other book of poetry I’ve read before and was handled and written in such a lovely way.

Death and grief is something that unfortunately we all have to deal with in our lifetimes and there’s no guide on how to navigate through it.

Obit reflects not just on the life of Victoria Chang’s mother but on her family and herself as well. The motions of illness, inner turmoil, and
L. A.
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Read this book! OBIT is another stunning book from Victoria Chang. I found I needed to read it over a few days, as parts of the book brought me to near tears. I was moved and changed by these poems. I loved the formal variation in this book, and was surprised to find myself so drawn to the tankas that intersperse each section. Highly recommend both for those who read poetry regularly and those less familiar with the genre.
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really really enjoyed this collection. "When someone you love dies, everything dies," it says on the back cover. And Chang writes obituaries for everything that dies when she loses her parents, one to death, the other to dementia. The clock, optimism, the car, blame, secrets, and even Chang herself die. As she writes, "her imagination lived beyond that day though." ...more
Penny Wright
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
This was not an easy book to read.

Obit is a deeply personal collection of poems written by Victoria Chang about her grief over her mother’s illness and subsequent death along with her father’s stroke and dementia. It’s moving and somber. I had planned on reading this in a single sitting, but had to put it down and walk away a few times before I could read further.

Told in the form of short obituaries, she tackles the way grief makes you feel, the struggle of taking care of aging and sick parents,
Amorak Huey
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This book is as good as everyone says it is.

Every page has a line or two or ten that quickens the pulse, that wakes you up, that reminds you why you read poetry.

It’s hard to describe how wise this book is. How insightful in the face of overwhelming emotion. How much it knows about language.
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
loved the tone of barbie chang, felt familiar (in a good way) here but applied to a diff stage of life. grief for ill/dying parents, but at a distance, not quite understanding the sadness, not quite understanding the parents + who they've become in their illness, how grief is about you more than it is about them, the guilt at that

some really challenging things about love/care and how hard those things are: "how we go in and out of caring about others"

some lovely stuff about memory/images and how
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
a word of advice—do read this, but read it slowly. fight the urge to read the book quickly, because it’s so intense. i’ve spent a lot of this year grieving. grieving the loss of people who I held close to my heart, the extra grief in knowing that those fallouts with those loved ones would have probably been preventable if the both of us were equally commited to generative conflict, the grief of immense and preventable loss to this pandemic, the grief of what we thought this world and year would ...more
Ashley Hajimirsadeghi
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had to read this for a poetry workshop on memento mori I'm taking, and wow. Just wow. In Victoria Chang's Obit, the poet reimagines what an obituary is and interrogates their grief upon the death of their parents. The language is quite lyrical and personal, which I came to admire greatly by the time I finished reading. Deeply moving--I could not recommend it more. ...more
Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In late November, Missing signs began appearing for an older Korean American woman around my neighborhood. She has Alzheimers, they read. She went missing around __ and ___, and was wearing a red sweater. I have been quarantining in the weeks since so I have been unable to follow up and see whether the posters have been taken down, but I think of her often, and thought of her as I began reading Victoria Chang's Obit.

In this collection of poetry, Chang captures her mourning and reflection in th
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book.

A whole pages made me cry like little bitch.

I don't usually cursed at my reviews but i am now. Everything terrified me. What if one day my mom..... holy shit i'm gonna lose my mind.
Mitch Loflin
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Time to call my mom!!
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I read about this book and bought it, I dreaded its sadness but was eager for the possibility of its empathy and companionship. My dad died 12 years ago of pulmonary fibrosis (as did Chang's mother), and my experience of his illness, and somehow slow but fast decline, and finally the grief of losing him to that suffocating disease changed me in more ways than I probably even know. My mom died in January of this year of pancreatic cancer even after being diagnosed very early and living for m ...more
Cathleen (Woven From Words)
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Death is a serious topic to discuss. Writing about the death of a parent is equal parts difficult and a testimony of strength.

In 'Obit', Victoria Chang's poetry expressed the loss of her mother in stunning verse and imagery. The poems inside 'Obit' not only speak about the loss of Victoria's Chang's mother, but also about the loss of life as Chang knew it. Each poem marks a moment in life that gradually departed, marking a personal loss. 'Ambition', 'Memory', and 'Friendships' (among others), ea
Madeleine Barnes
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book paints a layered, complex, and compelling picture of grief, elegy, and obituary. The book is filled with resonant and powerful lines: "Anger after someone has died is a cake on a table, fully risen. A knife housed in glass." Chang gives us a fresh way to look at the obituary, and to consider what dies with the people we love. Our loved one is gone, as is a part of ourselves; Chang writes about what we might feel we have also buried: The Future, Hope, Privacy, Civility, Friendship, Opti ...more
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Nicole Chang wrote Obit after her Mom died. Poems written as obituaries not only for her mom but for each part of ones existence that dies with a loved one.

This collection spoke to my soul. Chang eloquently describes the multitudes of loss contained in the passing of one person.
Hallie Elizabeth
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-class, poetry
hello this was absolutely amazing and broke me!
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5 stars

It would be really hard to oversell this book. It's incredible. It moved me to tears at times. The concept (besides in the second section, which is one long poem that I will admit to caring less for than the rest of the collection) is that Chang creates obituaries for all the things that die along with a person, interspersed with tangas about her children. You would think that such a concept would get old fast, but it never does. Chang's imagination is boundless, and it feels like she's s
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
I just fell in love with this book. I teared up, I remembered myself. The poems are written as obituaries. For her mother, her memories her hope. It touches on grief, on lost in so many ways. How grief is everywhere, how death leaves you, how hope can die so many times.
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting idea but it often feels watered down and like I'm being told what her experience feels like rather than actually feeling it. The form gets old really fast too. You're reading a bunch of fake obituaries after all. If you want a rawer/realer book on grief, read Colin Popes Why I Didn't Go to your Funeral or Jason Shinder's Stupid Hope. Sharon Olds writes a ton of great grief poems too. This isn't a bad book it just isn't wonderful. ...more
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was an anguish, a dull arrow in the heart. Maybe it's because there are so (comparably) few Asian American authors that every niche project hurts for the first time in a way that doesn't exist when you grow up having read and watched and heard only other (white) people's stories, only their grief and their exhaustion, and for a long time you think these must be the same as your own — isn't death universal, after all? doesn't grief transcend last name? — but now, now I know otherwise + ...more
K.C. Bratt-Pfotenhauer
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"My grief is not the same as my pain. My
mother was a mathematician so I tried
to calculate my grief. My father was an
engineer so I tried to build a box around
my grief, along with a small wooden
bed that grief could lie down on." (70)

This is a heartbreaking and gorgeous and heavy book of poems exploring loss and grief and Chang is a total powerhouse in said exploration. The topic is taboo enough, but we are lucky to find in Chang a sympathetic guide by virtue of her ability to be unsparing and suc
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Another collection published this year. I cannot choose one that resonates the most with me because all of Victoria Chang’s poems in this collection do. These Obits for all the things that die as our parents age and die is heartbreaking and beautiful.

#SealeyChallenge #VictoriaChang

From “Tears”

“...The way our sadness is plural but our grief is singular.”
Jan 11, 2021 added it
Shelves: poetry, 2021
“If you unfold an origami swan, and flatten the paper, is the paper sad because it has seen the shape of the swan or does it aspire toward flatness, a life without creases?” (The Clock)

“Somewhere, in the morning, my mother had become the sketch. And I would spend the rest of my life trying to shade her back in.” (The Head)
Shannon Malone
Feb 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
like many books of poems some resonated more than others with me personally, but I was constantly moved by Chang’s writing. some very profound sentences in this i’ll give it that!

one i love in particular:
“The way grief needs oxygen. The way every once in a while, it catches the light and stars smoking”
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Postcolonial Love Poem
  • The Galleons: Poems
  • Guillotine: Poems
  • DMZ Colony
  • Deluge
  • A Nail the Evening Hangs on
  • Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry
  • In the Lateness of the World: Poems
  • My Baby First Birthday
  • Homie
  • The Age of Phillis
  • Wonderstruck
  • How We Fight For Our Lives
  • The Burning Girl
  • Fantasia for the Man in Blue
  • Duplex
  • The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1)
  • Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
See similar books…
Victoria Chang's new book of poems, OBIT, was published in 2020 by Copper Canyon Press. It was named a New York Times Notable Book, as well as a TIME, NPR, Publisher's Weekly, Book of the Year. Her middle grade novel, Love, Love, was published in 2020 by Sterling Books. Other books are Barbie Chang, The Boss, Salvinia Molesta, and Circle.

She has also published a picture book, "Is Mommy?", illustra

News & Interviews

The beauty of a paperback novel is multidimensional. Allow me to explain: The format allows you to catch up on some of 2020's biggest books...
84 likes · 7 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Blame has no face. I have walked on its staircase, around and around, trying to slap its face but only hitting my own cheeks.” 4 likes
“If you cut out a rectangle of a perfectly blue sky, no clouds, no wind, no birds, frame it with a blue frame, place it faceup on the floor of an empty museum with an open atrium to the sky, that is grief.” 4 likes
More quotes…