Over the past 15 years, author Corinna Chong wrote short stories for a number of journals and publications. These stories are now being published as a collection in her upcoming book, The Whole Animal

Chong was born and raised in Calgary and now lives in British Columbia as a professor at Okanagan College while continuing her work as an author. She was a recipient of the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize for her story Kids in Kindergarten, a work included in her new book. 

Porcelain, animals and irony

The book’s title was a suggestion from her editing team in the hopes of better marketing opportunities. It was going to follow her original title story, Porcelain Legs. Chong was unsure in the beginning, but after deep reflection on her stories, she realized the change was a better fit than she thought.

“I think there are a lot of animals that show up within the stories,” Chong says. “The animals became emblematic of the internal conflict the characters are facing.”

The Whole Animal is a collection of short stories written by Corrina Chong over the past 15 years. PHOTO: Supplied by Corrina Chong

She says she also enjoys the irony the title poses to her series with the use of the word ‘whole’.

“All of the stories deal with a kind of fragmentation of self and of body, there’s a lot of body parts that are disconnected and a sense that the characters are disconnected from their bodies. Their sense of self is very separate from their bodies.”

Her mind and body

The series focuses on both physical and emotional bodies, regardless of species. Chong says that concepts of the body and self are issues that she finds fascinating and complex, but they’re also something she’s struggled with personally throughout much of her life.

“I think part of it comes from my experience of being a mixed race person and trying to understand where I belong in relation to White people and in relation to Asian people,” Chong says. “I’ve always been in this in-between space.”

She doesn’t always notice them when she’s writing, but Chong says the themes in her stories are ideas that regularly swim around in her head. This includes living and discovering one’s sexual identity as a woman in contemporary society. 

Chong believes that discovering one’s sexual identity is a source of confusion for many women, and is similar to a rite of passage, even though every woman’s experience is different.

“Hopefully I can reflect something of women’s own experiences back to them in a way that feels truthful,” Chong says.

Similarly, childhood experiences are recurrent in her stories. Chong says she is intrigued by the way these experiences set the stage for who someone will become as an adult and how formative events change the way people see the world fundamentally.

There’s no place like home

Chong’s writing career began in Calgary, and many of her stories have pieces of the city sprinkled in them or are imagined as taking place in the city. Fort McMurray’s population of Calgarians working the oil rigs and the city’s Chinatown area are some of the city’s aspects to be found in her collection.

Many of the stories are based on aspects of Chong’s and those around her’s lives, but her hope is that readers will still be able to find pieces of her writing that speaks to their lives.

“The number one goal is to somehow put your own thoughts and feelings and experiences that you feel so strongly and emotionally about down onto the page,” she says. “And that will resonate with someone else in a similar way.”

Chong is currently in the early stages of her second novel Bad Land which is based in Drumheller’s badlands. 

The official release date for The Whole Animal is April 11, but the book is currently available for pre-order through Arsenal Pulp Press and local bookstores.

To see more from Corinna Chong, visit her website at:


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