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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.
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.