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.
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.
“Knight is one of the storytellers we need most right now.” — Toronto Star
“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.” —This Magazine
“Dear Current Occupant is an astonishing book: haunting, intimate, and deeply rendered. Chelene Knight emerges as a fierce new voice in Canadian literature, deserving of our full attention.” —Ayelet Tsabari