Victoria Chang on the Humor and Oddity in Obituaries

February 8, 2021

At the New York Times Magazine, poet Victoria Chang discusses with Malia Wollan the art of the obituary poem, as seen in her newest collection, Obit, a memorial to the dead and a reflection on grief. “’There’s a lot of humor and oddity, strange tensions and funny stuff about people and the things they do together,’ Chang says. Obituaries, even simple ones, remind us of our briefness. After watching her mother die, Chang understood in a visceral way for the first time that she, too, would die. She thinks that if people spent more time acknowledging their mortality they’d live differently — kinder, more present. Writing an obituary can be a wake-up call. ‘This person is dead,” Chang says. “You’re alive.’”

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).

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