OC professor and national award-winning writer launches new book

By College Relations | April 3, 2023

Corinna Chong
Corinna Chong and the cover of her short story collection, The Whole Animal

Short doesn’t necessarily mean sweet – especially if it is unpacking the messy experiences of the human body.

Okanagan College Professor Corinna Chong explores the good, bad and unseemly in The Whole Animal, a short story collection published by Arsenal Pulp Press that will be celebrated during an official book launch on April 13.

Throughout The Whole Animal, flawed characters wrestle with the complexities of relationships with partners, parents, children and friends as they struggle to find identity, belonging and autonomy.

Bodies are divided, often elusive, even grotesque. In “Porcelain Legs,” a preteen fixes on the long, thick hair growing from her mother’s eyelid. In “Wolf-Boy Saturday,” a linguist grasps for connection with a young boy whose negligent upbringing has left him unable to speak. In “Butter Buns,” a college student sees his mother in a new light when she takes up bodybuilding.

With strange juxtapositions, beguiling dark humour and lurid imagery, The Whole Animal illuminates the everyday experiences of loneliness and loss, of self-alienation and self-discovery, that make us human.

While this is Chong’s debut collection of short stories, her name is nationally recognized with the form. She won the CBC Short Story Prize in 2021 for “Kids in Kindergarten,” one of the most renowned writing competitions in Canada.

“I love how the short story form lends itself so well to free exploration,” Chong says. “I often begin with a small idea—a single sentence, a striking image, a news story on the radio—and develop the characters and conflict from there. Writing a story becomes a way of exploring the nuances and implications of that idea, layer upon layer, like growing a pearl.”

Chong teaches English, Creative Writing and Fine Arts for the Writing and Publishing Diploma at Okanagan College. Her first novel, Belinda’s Rings, was published by NeWest Press in 2013, and her reviews and short fiction have appeared in magazines across Canada, including Grain, Ricepaper, Room, Riddle Fence, The Malahat Review and PRISM international.

The launch celebration will be held on Thursday, April 13 from 7 to 9 p.m., and will feature a reading, book signing and refreshments. The event will be held at Sprout, 125-1295 Cannery Lane in Kelowna, and books will be available for purchase from Mosaic Books. The location is accessible for those with mobility challenges; please contact info@sproutbread.ca for information. For information on the author, visit www.corinnachong.com.

Tags: Arts University Studies, English



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