PS Picks: Nicole Chung's Debut Book, 'All You Can Ever Know'

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
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All You Can Ever Know.

All You Can Ever Know.

As a managing editor of the now-shuttered but still beloved Internet publication The Toast, Nicole Chung made a name for herself writing, commissioning, and editing personal and cultural essays that resonated among a passionate audience of librarians, book nerds, and those among us desperate to reconcile our socialist-feminist principles with our undying affection for Channing Tatum movies. Her memoir (and debut book), All You Can Ever Know, is a fitting continuation of that work.

Chung, born to Korean parents and adopted at birth by a white family, uses the book to explore not just her own history but also the larger notion of having a history at all. She invites the reader to join her on the intimate and sometimes heartbreaking journey of discovering—and rediscovering—her identity as a person and a writer. Particularly affecting is the story of Chung's relationship with her own daughter, born, poetically, as Chung commits to searching for her birth family.

A version of this story originally appeared in the September/October 2018 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now to support independent journalism in the public interest.