Proust Questionnaire: 17 questions with Alice Pung
By Yong Shu Hoong
In award-winning Unpolished Gem (2006), Alice Pung captures her life growing up in Footscray, a suburb 5km west of Melbourne, Australia, where she was born into a family headed by Chinese refugees from Cambodia.
At the Singapore Writers Festival 2011, she shared about her latest memoir, Her Father's Daughter (2011), which delves deeper into the story of her father, a Killing Fields survivor, as well as her own relationship with him.
She files her answers to this questionnaire from Melbourne, where she now works as a writer, teacher and qualified lawyer practising in the area of minimum wages.
1) What are you reading right now?
2) If you were a famous literary character in a novel, play or poem, what would you be and why?
3) What is the greatest misconception about you?
4) Name one living author and one dead author you most identify with, and tell us why.
2. Robert Cormier, because he seemed to have lived a very balanced, stable and private life in the same small town in Leominster, Massachusetts, and yet was interested in exploring darkness.
5) Do you believe in writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?
6) What qualities do you most admire in a writer?
7) What is one trait you most deplore in writing or writers?
8) Can you recite your favourite line from a literary work or a piece of advice from a writer?
9) Complete this sentence: Few people know this, but I...
10) Over easy, or hard boiled, which?
11) What is your favourite word, and what is your least favourite one?
12) Moving beyond memoirs, what fictional characters or setting would you be keen to create for a future book?
13) What object is indispensable to you when you write?
14) What is the best time of the day for writing?
15) If you have a last supper, which three literary figures, real or fictional, would you invite to the soirée?
16) What's the darndest thing that a kid had said to you during one of your school visits to teach or speak about writing?
17) What would you write on your own tombstone?