Dear Current Occupant by Chelene Knight

Dear Current Occupant by Chelene Knight

Essais Series No. 5
Nonfiction / Memoir
Publication Date: March 1, 2018
132 pages, with colour photographs
8 x 6 inches
ISBN 9781771663908

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Winner the 2018 City of Vancouver Book Award

Longlisted for the 2019 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature

Chelene Knight Selected by David Chariandy for Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Rising Star Program

Dear Current Occupant is a creative nonfiction memoir about home and belonging set in the 80s and 90s of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Using a variety of forms including letters, essays and poems, Knight reflects on her childhood through a series of letters addressed to all of the current occupants now living in the twenty different houses she moved in and out of with her mother and brother. From blurry and fragmented non-chronological memories of trying to fit in with her own family as the only mixed East Indian/Black child, to crystal clear recollections of parental drug use, Knight draws a vivid portrait of memory that still longs for a place and a home.

Peering through windows and doors into intimate, remembered spaces now occupied by strangers, Knight writes to them in order to deconstruct her own past. From the rubble of memory she then builds a real place in order to bring herself back home.

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Praise for Dear Current Occupant:

“Knight is a poet at heart, somewhat disinclined to follow the dusty rules of prose writing, and we are all richer for it. This memoir is built from shards of pure resilience, expertly pieced together into a compelling—and at times devastating—chronicle of youth, family, and sense of place. From Clark Drive to Commercial and Broadway, Dear Current Occupant is a love song to East Vancouver—it is a map of scars, and as everyone knows, scars make for good storytelling.” —Carleigh Baker, author of Bad Endings, finalist for the 2018 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

“Dear Current Occupant is an astonishing book: haunting, intimate, and deeply rendered. A lyrical memoir set against the backdrop of Vancouver’s gritty East Side, it triumphantly melds together prose, poetry, letters and imagery, to illuminate the pain of un-belonging, the search for a home, and the power of words to heal and transform us. It is a book that boldly takes risks, unafraid and brimming with raw energy, tenderness, and heartbreaking beauty. Chelene Knight emerges as a fierce new voice in Canadian literature, deserving of our full attention.” —Ayelet Tsabari, author of The Best Place on Earth

“I want to thank Chelene Knight for not forcing her memoir into a point “a” to b” narrative. Too often complex and stigmatized stories are dumbed-down, but Knight elevates! She uplifts both her experiences and the poetic prose and hybrid forms used to share these experiences. Dear Current Occupant will surely become a nuanced creative touchstone that shows us how our stories of survival can and should be told.” —Amber Dawn, author of Sub Rosa and How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir

Press Coverage:

Chelene Knight’s Dear Current Occupant wins City of Vancouver Book Award —The Georgia Straight

Chelene Knight’s memoir Dear Current Occupant wins Vancouver Book Award —Quill and Quire

Read an excerpt from Dear Current Occupant: ‘Teachers are Gatekeepers’ —Toronto Star

Read excerpts from Dear Current OccupantThe Capilano Review

A Prose Poem by Chelene Knight: Read “I didn’t have a father” —LitHub

The Best Canadian Nonfiction of 2018 —CBC Books

2018 Books of the Year: Nonfiction —49th Shelf

“One of the great things about the current era of Can Lit is how many new voices we’re getting to hear. How many stories are finally getting told. We are all better off for it. We certainly wouldn’t have wanted to miss knowing Knight, one of the storytellers we need most right now.” —Tara Henley, Toronto Star

“Knight subtly reinforces the fact that home is more than just a roof overhead: it is feeling that you belong to the wider society, as well as to a personal matrix, and that you know where you are from. Dear Current Occupant gives voice to the desire for home in all of us.” —Jennifer Chutter, BC Bookworld

“Knight weaves poetry, essays, letters, and photographs together to create a work that is halting and profoundly moving. Knight’s fragmented approach succeeds in exploring the truths of her past more than any conventional, linear method could.” —Mormei Zanke, Prism International

Spring Preview 2018: Non-fiction —Quill and Quire

21 works of Canadian nonfiction to watch for in the first half of 2018 —CBC Books

Spring lookahead: The 20 books we can’t wait to read —Toronto Star

In Praise of Black Voices: Notable Canadian Voices Recommend Must-Read Books that Will Change the World the Way We See It —Toronto Star

Most Anticipated: Our 2018 Spring Nonfiction Preview —49th Shelf

Preview of Dear Current Occupant —Tara Henley on CBC Radio’s On the Coast

“What Does it Mean to Be Home?” Chelene Knight on Her Writing Journey, Genre-Bending, & the Unanswerable Questions —Open Book

Affordability on Knight’s Streets —BC Bookworld

6 Black Canadian Writers to Watch in 2018 —CBC Books

18 Canadian women writers to read in 2018 —CBC Books

New and Notable Memoirs —49th Shelf

Why Chelene Knight wrote letters to the current occupants of the houses she lived in growing up —CBC Books

Chelene Knight Television Interview with Beverly Thomson —CTV News

Hot Book Alert: Chelene Knight’s Memoir Dear Current OccupantThe Unpublishables

Bring Me Back Home by Chelene Knight —All Lit Up

‘It triggered something in me.’ Chelene Knight’s memoir tackles belonging, race and poverty in Downtown Eastside —Toronto Star

Dear Current Occupant: An Interview with Chelene Knight —Prism International

Chelene Knight’s Dear Current Occupant remembers the Downtown Eastside through the eyes of a child —The Georgia Straight

The Chat With Chelene Knight —Trevor Corkum, 49th Shelf

VIDA Reviews! Interview with Chelene Knight on Dear Current Occupant —VIDA

Interview with Chelene Knight + DEAR CURRENT OCCUPANT giveaway The Debutante Ball

“What makes this book so engaging is in knowing that Knight writes from a perspective built from the inside, and not from the outside, peering in; and knowing that she managed to pull herself out, and not only survive, but thrive. And, throughout the events described in her memoir, this is a book that works, just as much, to honour the strength of her mother.” —rob mclennan’s blog

“Using poetry, essay, flash nonfiction, and photography, Knight weaves what she refers to as a “patchwork” story of her life, told through the lens of different places she’s called “home” throughout her life. The effect is absolutely dazzling.” —Alicia Elliott, This Magazine

“With this book, Chelene Knight has created something more than a fort, more than a house. She’s strategic. She breaks the rules in all the right ways and explodes the house from the inside out.” —Cara Lang, subTerrain

Memoirists’ Roundtable —49th Shelf

Chelene Knight: Writer-in-Residence, June 2018 —Open Book

18 writers to watch in 2018  —CBC Books

10 Canadian memoirs to check out this summer —CBC Books

8 Books that Need to Be in Every Classroom in Canada —49th Shelf

The List: The top 100 Titles Recommended by the Toronto Public Library’s Youth Selection Committee —Toronto Public Library

Chelene Knight on Dear Current Occupant —CBC Radio One The Next Chapter, with Shelagh Rogers

Dear Current Occupant: An Interview with Chelene Knight New Books Network

“Dear Current Occupant presents a textual fort, forged from memories; this text, like the self-excavation Knight has performed, will not go unremembered.” Evangeline Holtz, Canadian Literature

“Chelene Knight writes with all of the high artistry that comes from caring. She cares about overlooked places and vanished communities. She cares about the souls and laughter of the vulnerable. She cares about the nuances of narrative voice, the tangled work of cultural memory, and the limning of everyday powerful intimacies. Knight is the inspiring example of the socially invested writer, working in community and on the page to offer language and story that is fresh, stylistically audacious, fiercely honest, and beautiful.” —Citation, Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Rising Star Program

Chelene Knight was born in Vancouver, and is currently the Managing Editor of Room Magazine. A graduate of The Writers’ Studio at SFU, Chelene has been published in various Canadian and American literary magazines. Her debut book, Braided Skin, was published in 2015. Dear Current Occupant is her second book. Chelene is also working on a historical novel set in the 1930s and 40s in Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley.

Additional information

Dimensions 8 × 6 in