Home > Ask > Dinner by the Book, with Catherine Chung

“The very act of storytelling is empowering” Catherine Chung, author of Forgotten Country, responds when asked how she felt while writing her new book. “Whenever anyone, but especially a woman of color, writes, she is taking a kind of control. She is claiming an audience or story, and asserting a vision of how things are in the world.”

Catherine Chung at Dinner by the BookFriends and supporters of the YW gathered to hear Catherine speak about her book, while enjoying an authentic three-course Korean meal for Dinner by the Book, held on March 19 at Bann Restaurant in Midtown. The fifth installment in the YW’s Dinner by the Book series opened with a brief introduction of Catherine’s book, Forgotten Country, followed by an open discussion on the challenges she faced as an author, her influences, and the role of women in creating and shaping folklore.

Catherine shared with the audience how she developed Forgotten Country from a collection of stories she wanted to tell, and from the stories that shaped her as she grew up. Explaining that her book isn’t an autobiography – in that it doesn’t line up with the events of her life. However, that Forgotten Country is, in some ways, an autobiography of her mind.

Catherine also explained how fairy-tales differ from folklore, and how women were largely responsible for the creation and development of folklore. She tells of the stories that she heard growing up, which in part, inspired her to write Forgotten Country. Catherine goes on, explaining that “when I was writing this book, I was really interested in stories about people trying to hold onto a lost world, and the consequences of that. Somehow these stories felt like they were about me.” She explains her fascination with the human instinct to fight for something that is already lost, and how this shaped her story.

The evening concluded with the opportunity to talk with Catherine one-on-one, as well as to have her sign her new book.

On behalf of the YW – thank you Catherine, for sharing you stories and for making our growing Dinner by the Book series such a success.