Crying in H Mart: A Memoir PDF AZW3 EPUB MOBI TXT Download

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.
Michelle Zauner
April 20, 2021
256 pages
File Size: 21 MB
Available File Formats: PDF AZW3 DOCX EPUB MOBI TXT or Kindle audiobook Audio CD(Several files can be converted to each other)
Language: English, Francais, Italiano, Espanol, Deutsch, chinese
An Amazon Best Book of April 2021: For those who don’t know Michele Zauner, she’s the indie rockstar behind the solo musical act Japanese Breakfast. She’s also a daughter, foodie, a Korean-American, and a writer who effectively gives voice to grief and complicated mother-daughter relationships. When she was 26, Zauner’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and her memoir, Crying in H-Mart chronicles the decline of her mother’s health and her own journey in finding her sense of self. It’s through food that Zauner most connected with her fierce and independent mother, and so it follows that the place where she most misses her is in a Korean grocery store. Despite her mother rarely showing affection or vulnerability, Zauner traces her own emotions with such care and insight that it’s impossible not to shed a tear as you realize just how much she truly understood her mother. A powerful memoir that shows just how important it is to accept someone fully for who they are—and loving them just the same. —Al Woodworth, Amazon Book Review Review ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:The New York Times, Time, NPR, Washington Post, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly,Good Morning America, Philadelphia Inquirer, Goodreads,BuzzFeed,and more • One of President Obama’s Favorite Books of the Year • One of The Smithsonian’s Ten Best Books About Food of the Year“Michelle Zauner has written a book you experience with all of your senses: sentences you can taste, paragraphs that sound like music. She seamlessly blends stories of food and memory, sumptuousness and grief, to weave a complex narrative of loyalty and loss.” —Rachel Syme“I read Crying in H Mart with my heart in my throat. In this beautifully written memoir, Michelle Zauner has created a gripping, sensuous portrait of an indelible mother-daughter bond that hits all the notes: love, friction, loyalty, grief. All mothers and daughters will recognize themselves—and each other—in these pages.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance“A warm and wholehearted work of literature, an honest and detailed account of grief over time, studded with moments of hope, humor, beauty, and clear-eyed observation. This story is a nuanced portrayal of a young person grappling with what it means to embody familial and cultural histories, to be fueled by creative pursuits, to examine complex relationships with place, and to endure the acute pain of losing a parent just on the other side of a tumultuous adolescence . . . Crying in H Mart is not to be missed.” —The Seattle Times “A profound, timely exploration of terminal illness, culture and shared experience . . . Zauner has accomplished the unthinkable: a book that caters to all appetites. She brings dish after dish to life on the page in a rich broth of delectable details [and] offers remarkably prescient observations about otherness from the perspective of the Korean American experience. Crying in H Mart will thrill Japanese Breakfast fans and provide comfort to those in the throes of loss while brilliantly detailing the colorful panorama of Korean culture, traditions and food.” —San Francisco Chronicle“Crying in H Mart powerfully maps a complicated mother-daughter relationship . . . Zauner writes about her mother’s death [with] clear-eyed frankness . . . The book is a rare acknowledgement of the ravages of cancer in a culture obsessed with seeing it as an enemy that can be battled with hope and strength. Zauner plumbs the connections between food and identity . . . her food descriptions transport us to the table alongside her. What Crying in H Mart reveals is that in losing her mother and cooking to bring her back to life, Zauner became herself.” —NPR “Zauner’s storytelling is impeccable. Memories are rendered with a rich immediacy, as if bathed in a golden light. Zauner is also adept at mapping the contradictions in her relationship with, and perception of, her mother. The healing, connective power of food reverberates in nearly every chapter of this coming-of-age story, [in] sensuous descriptions . . . Heartfelt, searching, wise.” —AV Club”Crying in H Mart is a wonder: A beautiful, deeply moving coming-of-age story about mothers and daughters, love and grief, food and identity. It blew me away, even as it broke my heart.” –Adrienne Brodeur, author of Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me”The book’s descriptions of jjigae, tteokbokki, and other Korean delicacies stand out as tokens of the deep, all-encompassing love between Zauner and her mother . . . Zauner’s frankness around death feels like an unexpected yet deeply necessary gift.”—Vogue”A candid, moving tribute to her mother, to her identity, and to our collective desire for connection in this often alienating world…Zauner’s writing is powerful in its straight-forwardness, though some turns of phrases are as beautiful as any song lyric… but it is her ability to convey how her mother’s simple offering of a rice snack was actually an act of the truest love that leaves the most indelible impression.”—Refinery 29″Crying in H Mart is palpable in its grief and its tenderness, reminding us what we all stand to lose.”—Vulture”Incandescent.”—Electric Lit  “Poignant . . . A tender, well-rendered, heart-wrenching account of the way food ties us to those who have passed. The author delivers mouthwatering descriptions of dishes like pajeon, jatjuk, and gimbap, and her storytelling is fluid, honest, and intimate. When a loved one dies, we search all of our senses for signs of their presence. Zauner’s ability to let us in through taste makes her book stand out—she makes us feel like we are in her mother’s kitchen, singing her praises.”   —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)”Lyrical… Earnest… Zauner does a good job capturing the grief of losing a parent with pathos. Fans looking to get a glimpse into the inner life of this megawatt pop star will not be disappointed.”—Publishers Weekly About the Author MICHELLE ZAUNER is best known as a singer and guitarist who creates dreamy, shoegaze-inspired indie pop under the name Japanese Breakfast. She has won acclaim from major music outlets around the world for releases like Psychopomp (2016) and Soft Sounds from Another Planet (2017). Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. 18 Maangchi and Me Whenever Mom had a dream about shit, she would buy a scratch card. In the morning, on the drive to school, she’d pull wordlessly into the 7-Eleven parking lot and tell me to wait while she kept the car running. “What are you doing?” “Don’t worry about it,” she said, grabbing her purse from the back seat. “What are you going to buy at the 7-Eleven?” “I’ll tell you later.” Then she’d come back with a handful of scratch cards. We’d drive the last few blocks to school, and she’d scrub off the gummy film with a coin on the dashboard. “You had a poop dream, didn’t you?” “Umma won ten dollars!” she’d say. “I couldn’t tell you because then it doesn’t work!” Dreams about pigs, the president, or shaking hands with a celebrity were all good-luckdreams—but it was shit in particular, especially if you touched it, that was license to gamble.Every time I had a dream about shit, I couldn’t wait to ask my mom to buy me a scratch card. I’d wake up from a dream about accidentally shitting my pants or walking into a public bathroom to find some extraordinarily long, winding shit, and when it was time to drive to school I’d sit quietly in the passenger seat, hardly able to contain myself until we were a block away from the7-Eleven on Willamette Street. “Mom, pull over,” I’d say. “I’ll tell you why later.” Shortly after we returned to the States, I started having recurring dreams about my mother. I’d suffered one such episode before, when I was a paranoid kid, morbidly obsessed with my par­ents’ deaths. My father is driving us across Ferry Street Bridge and to skirt traffic up ahead, he maneuvers the car onto the shoulder, weaving through a gap under construction and aiming to vault off the bridge onto a platform below. Eyes focused on the mark, he leans in close to the steering wheel and accelerates, but we miss the landing by several feet. The car plunges into the rushing current of the Willamette River and I wake up breathing heavily. Later, when we were teenagers, Nicole told me a story she’d heard from her mother about a woman who suffered from recur­ring nightmares that all revolved around the same car accident. The dreams were so vivid and traumatic that she sought a therapist to help her overcome them. “What if, after the accident, you try to get somewhere,” the therapist suggested. “Maybe if you try to get yourself to a hospital or some kind of safe place, the dream will reach a natural conclusion.” So each night the woman began to will herself out of the car and crawl further and further along the side of the highway. But the dream kept coming back. One day the woman really did get into a car accident and was supposedly found dragging herself across the asphalt in an attempt to reach some nebulous location, unable to distinguish reality from her lucid dreaming. The dreams about my mother had small variations, but ulti­mately they were always the same. My mother would appear, still alive but incapacitated, left behind someplace we had forgotten her. In one I’m alone, sitting on a well-manicured lawn on a warm, sunny day. In the distance I can see a dark and ominous glass house. It looks modern, the exterior made up entirely of black glass windows connected by silver steel frames. The building is wide, mansion-like, and sectioned off in squares, like several monochro­matic Rubik’s Cubes stacked next to and on top of one another. I leave my patch of grass, making my way toward the curious house. I open its heavy door. Inside, it is dark and sparse. I wander around, eventually making my way toward the basement. I run my hand along the side of the wall as I descend the staircase. It is clean and quiet. I find my mother lying in the center of the room. Her eyes are closed and she is resting on some kind of platform that’s not quite a table but not a bed either, a kind of low pedestal, like the one where Snow White sleeps off the poisoned apple. When I reach her, my mother opens her eyes and smiles, as if she’s been waiting for me to find her. She is frail and bald, still sick but alive. At first I feel guilty—that we gave up on her too soon, that she’d been here the whole time. How had we managed to get so con­fused? Then I’m flooded with relief. “We thought you were dead!” I say. “I’ve just been here all along,” she says back to me. I lay my head on her chest and she rests her hand on my head. I can smell her and feel her and everything seems so real. Eventhough I know she is sick and we will have to lose her again, I’m just so happy to discover that she is alive. I tell her to wait for me. I need to run and get Dad! Then, just as I begin to ascend the stairs to find him, I wake up. In another dream, she arrives at a rooftop dinner party and reveals she’s been living in the house next door all along. In another, I am walking around my parents’ property. I amble down a hill, skidding on the thick clay toward the man-made pond. In the field below, I discover my mother lying alone in a nightgown surrounded by lush grass and wildflowers. Relief again. How silly we were to think you were gone! How on earth did we manage to make such a monu­mental error? When you’re here you’re here you’re here! Always she is bald and chapped and weak and I must carry her to bring her back into the house and show her to my father, but as soon as I bend down to scoop her into my arms, I wake up devas­tated. I shut my eyes immediately and try to crawl my way back to her. Drift back to sleep and return to the dream, savor just a bit more time in her presence. But I’m stuck wide awake or I fall into another dream entirely. Was this my mother’s way of visiting me? Was she trying to tell me something? I felt foolish indulging in mysticism and so I kept the dreams hidden, privately analyzing their possible meanings. If dreams were hidden wishes, why couldn’t I dream of my mother the way I wanted? Why was it that whenever she appeared she was still sick, as if I could not remember her the way she’d been before? I wondered if my memory was stunted, if my dreams were consigned to the epoch of trauma, the image of my mother stuck where we had left off. Had I forgotten her when she was beautiful? After the honeymoon, Peter and I posted up at his parents’ place in Bucks County. During the day we updated our résumés, applied for jobs, and looked at apartments online. I attacked these tasks with abandon. I’d essentially spent the last year as an unpaid nurse and cleaner, and the five years before that failing to make it as a musician. I needed to commit myself to some kind of career as soon as possible. I applied indiscriminately to what seemed like every available office job in New York City and messaged everyone I knew in search of potential leads. By the end of the first week I was hired as a sales assistant for an advertising company in Williamsburg. They had long-term leases on nearly a hundred walls around Brook­lyn and Manhattan, and an in-house art department that hand-painted mural advertisements like they did in the fifties. My job was to assist the two main account reps, helping them sell walls to prospective clients. If we were going after a yoga clothing company, I created maps that pinpointed every Vinyasa studio and organic health food store within a five-block radius. If we were pitching to a skate shoe company, I charted skate parks and concert venues to determine which of our walls in Brooklyn men between eighteen and thirty were most likely to pass by. My salary was forty-five grand a year with benefits. I felt like a millionaire. We rented a railroad apartment in Greenpoint from an old Pol­ish woman who’d acquired half her husband’s real estate in their divorce. The kitchen was small, with little counter space, and the floor was peel-and-stick checkerboard vinyl. There was no sink in the bathroom, just a large farmhouse-style sink in the kitchen that pulled double duty. For the most part, I felt very well adjusted. Everything was so unfamiliar—a new big city to live in, a real grown-up job. I tried my best not to dwell on what could not be changed and to throw myself into productivity, but every so often I was plagued by flashbacks. Painful loops would flare up, bringing every memory I had hoped to repress inescapably to the forefront of my mind.Images of my mother’s white, milky tongue, the purple bedsores, her heavy head slipping from my hands, her eyes falling open. An internal scream, ricocheting off the walls of my chest cavity, rip­ping through my body without release. I tried therapy. Once a week after work I took the L train to Union Square and attempted to explain what I was feeling, though generally I was unable to take my mind off the ticking clock until half an hour in, when time was already up. Then I’d take the train back to Bedford Avenue and walk the half hour back to our apart­ment. It was hardly therapeutic and seemed just to exhaust me even more. Nothing my therapist said was anything I hadn’t psy­choanalyzed in myself a million times already anyway. I was paying a hundred-dollar copay per session, and I began to think it would be much more fulfilling to just take myself out for a fifty-dollar lunch twice a week. I canceled the rest of my sessions and commit­ted myself to exploring alternative forms of self-care. I decided to turn to a familiar friend—Maangchi, the YouTube vlogger who had taught me how to cook doenjang jjigae and jatjuk in my time of need. Each day after work, I prepared a new recipe from her catalog. Sometimes, I followed her step by step, carefully measuring, pausing, and rewinding to get it exactly right. Other times, I picked a dish, refamiliarized myself with the ingredients, and let the video play in the background as my hands and taste buds took over from memory. Every dish I cooked exhumed a memory. Every scent and taste brought me back for a moment to an unravaged home. Knife-cut noodles in chicken broth took me back to lunch at Myeongdong Gyoja after an afternoon of shopping, the line so long it filled a flight of stairs, extended out the door, and wrapped around the building. The kalguksu so dense from the rich beef stock and starchy noodles it was nearly gelatinous. My mother ordering more and more refills of their famously garlic- heavy kimchi. My aunt scolding her for blowing her nose in public. Crispy Korean fried chicken conjured bachelor nights with Eunmi. Licking oil from our fingers as we chewed on the crispy skin, cleansing our palates with draft beer and white radish cubes as she helped me with my Korean homework. Black- bean noodles summoned Halmoni slurping jjajangmyeon takeout, huddled around a low table in the living room with the rest of my Korean family. I drained an entire bottle of oil into my Dutch oven and deep- fried pork cutlets dredged in flour, egg, and panko for tonkotsu, a Japanese dish my mother used to pack in my lunch boxes. I spent hours squeezing the water from boiled bean sprouts and tofu and spooning filling into soft, thin dumpling skins, pinching the tops closed, each one slightly closer to one of Maangchi’s perfectly uniform mandu. Maangchi peeled the skin off an Asian pear with the giant knife pulled toward her, just like Mom did when she cut Fuji apples for me after school on a little red cutting board, before eating the left-over fruit from the core. Just like Mom, chopsticks in one hand, scissors in the other, cutting galbi and cold naengmyeon noodles with a specifically Korean ambidextrous precision. Skillfully stretching out the meat with her right hand and cutting it into bite-sized pieces with her left, using kitchen scissors like a warrior brandishes a weapon. Read more <div id="
  • **A big thank you to Knopf for sending me a finished copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review!True to its title, CRYING IN H MART made me bawl like a baby. This memoir centers on Zauner’s experience of losing her mother at such a young age, along with the reckoning that followed as she attempted to forge new ties to her culture and strengthen her relationships with her living Korean relatives — considering that she’s an only child, and her white father was largely absent in supporting her through her grief, her aunt, uncle, and cousins become especially important to her.Zauner also discusses her upbringing as a biracial Korean American, from growing up as in semi-rural Oregon to spending entire summers in Seoul (where she was born); being the target of racist attacks, desperately wishing she was white, to feeling insecure about not being “Korean enough” and longing to have more of her mother reflected in her face. We learn that Zauner has loved music her whole life and spent years struggling to “make it” as an artist; she writes about how, when she was a teenager, she and her umma shared a very tumultuous relationship. In other words, Zauner is extremely honest, writing truthfully — if a little delicately — about her life, how her Korean-ness and mother shaped it, and how it disintegrated when she died.She is honest about how one of the largest tragedies surrounding her mother’s death is that her cancer diagnosis was delivered right as they were enjoying a new season of their relationship, during which the two were closer than they had been in years. Zauner had a turbulent adolescence, frequently clashing with her mother after a childhood of desperately clinging to her. The two were very different people, and from her umma growing to accept her music career to Zauner learning to appreciate her mother’s many sacrifices and expressions of love, they had to take time to get to know each other. It felt like they had come so far just to never get to the best part.While she was preparing for her mother’s death, she was also attempting to mourn all the memories they’d never get to make, experiences they’d never get to share. She tries to minimize these losses the best she can; she and her boyfriend, Peter Bradley, even got engaged to ensure that her mother would get to attend her wedding. (She did, by the way — Bradley and Zauner were married two weeks before she died.)Zauner experiences real grief and guilt over everything she never got to do for her mother, so she jumps at the chance to care for her throughout her entire illness, moving back to Oregon and putting her career on hold. There’s a desperation to her devotion, as though she’s trying her hardest to make up for her volatility as a teenager, for all ways she had wronged and hurt her mother. She tries her hardest to jam what would be a decades-long process into less than a year.When she first learns of her umma’s cancer diagnosis and decides to move back home, she thinks,“This could be my chance […] to make amends for everything. For all the burdens I’d imposed as a hyperactive child, for all the vitriol I’d spewed as a tortured teen […] I would radiate joy and positivity and it would cure her. I would wear whatever she wanted, complete every chore without protest. I would learn to cook for her — all the things she loved to eat, and I would singlehandedly keep her from withering away, I would repay her for all the debts I’d accrued. I would be everything she ever needed. I would make her sorry for ever not wanting me to be there. I would be the perfect daughter.”At many points throughout CRYING IN H MART, I was genuinely surprised by how much Zauner and I had in common, but this last passage particularly, and painfully, resonated with me. Like Zauner, I was difficult in adolescence — I also felt very misunderstood and trapped, lashing out as a result. Like Zauner, I struggle with guilt over this, constantly feeling like I have so many debts to repay and amends to make; knowing that no matter what, it will never feel like enough.Food plays a crucial role in Zauner’s memoir, and she recalls moments, places, and people she associates with various Korean dishes so vividly. Her descriptions of dishes like jjamppong, samgyeopsal, naengmyeon, and tangsuyuk are delightful and evocative, bringing to mind my own memories of dinners with family friends, snacks at church, and secret field trips with my mom to our favorite restaurants. (This is because Zauner is an excellent storyteller, able to present us with memories so vividly depicted it’s as if we were there with her.)Food is an important part of any culture, helping to create a shared sense of identity and giving people something to bond over. For immigrants and members of diaspora groups, cultural dishes take on new significance — they become an ultimate source of comfort and nostalgia, a window to childhood memories and home; they also become harbingers of bullying, carefully and lovingly packed by our parents in cartoon-patterned lunchboxes. Demonstrations of love intertwined with recollections of pain and shame.After her mother passes away, Zauner desperately tries to fill her (and her father’s) emotional void by cooking decadent meals, with items like chicken pot pie, steak, and lobster regularly appearing on their dinner table. But it isn’t until she makes herself a bowl of jatjuk, a simple, Korean pine nut porridge, that she finally feels full. She begins devotedly watching Maangchi, a Korean American cooking channel on YouTube, and recreates traditional dishes, sending photos of successful attempts to her aunt. Along with her music and writing, cooking becomes her primary way of remembering and honoring her mother. By constantly surrounding herself with all the foods and places and people and memories she associates with her umma, she holds her close, forever reaching for her, seeking her.Japanese Breakfast has been one of my favorite artists since I was a teenager, and reading and writing about CRYING IN H MART has left me feeling close to her — she doesn’t know who I am and probably never will, but the experiences we share now make her seem like a friend, a fellow Tormented Korean Daughter. A full five out of five stars. I wouldn’t change a thing about this book.
  • It doesn’t happen very often that I want to fling a book across the room, but that was how I felt about this one. In part I was frustrated with her lists of specific Korean foods: with no background in the culture the foods listed were just words on the page. In part, too, this struck me as a maudlin attempt for the author to convince herself she had not been a neglectful daughter. The worst for me was the scene where she puts the arm of an octopus in her mouth, an arm still wriggling from having been chopped off a living creature moments before. The casual cruelty in that scene to an animal known for its high intelligence and sensitivity was where I flung the book. Octolab on YouTube will explain.
  • I was extremely excited for this book and it did not disappoint! I received it and read it within 36 hours, as it was hard to put down.I have a strong love for Korean culture and enjoy cooking a wide variety of Korean dishes in my own kitchen. Each time I read about one of the dishes, I could imagine my last time cooking or experiencing it. Michelle also describes memories and emotions invoked by these dishes and it instantly connected with me.Michelle’s description of being Korean American and some of the hurdles she has experienced have never been more pertinent. What really made this book amazing was the emotional story of Michelle and her mother’s relationship throughout their lives, sharing Korean dishes together that form lasting memories, and the impact her mother’s cancer treatments and death had on the her. I found myself in tears on multiple occasions, in the best way possible.
  • Simply not a fan. Again; too much of this book about suffering cancer illness. Not a feel good read. Needed more levity snd balance with some happier elements.
  • As a biracial Korean woman who grew up in Salt Lake, this book hit close to home and my heart. I appreciate Michelle’s vulnerability. I read this book in 2 days. I highly recommend it. A book about the bond you have with your mother, growing up in between two cultures, family dynamics, bonding over food, and trying to find your place or way in this world makes it relatable to many.
  • Like most people, I came to Michelle Zauner through her band, Japanese Breakfast, so I knew that she was a talented songwriter and musician, but I was unprepared for the beauty of this book as well as the technical skill that she demonstrated. It’s a sad story, of course, but this book also offers joy and much food for thought, in both the figurative and literal senses. Not to be missed.
  • Thank you for sharing your life’s story with us, Michelle. I stumbled upon your essay after growing smitten with you and your band after watching a few of your live performances on YouTube. When I discovered the book, I immediately preordered it being so moved by the essay. I can relate a lot to your upbringing as my mom is an immigrant of this country as well and her native food brought us close growing up. I loved how the book weaves back and forth between the heaviness of those moments leading up to the loss of her mother and their experiences growing up together as mother and daughter and then the modesty in which she speaks about her success later on. Life goes on and we can move with purpose with the memory of the ones we mourn and Michelle explains that delicately.
  • what can i say except amazing. there was no dry eye for me when i listened to the audio book on my way to work. for someone who has experienced loss it was like she was speaking to me. As some one who feels like she is loosing a part of her culture because of death, michelle understood me. Not only am i a fan of Japanese breakfast, i am now a fan of the author michelle zauner. i feel so proud and amazed by how emotional i was while reading. I loved this book and i love michelle zauner!
  • I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I bought it on the basis of its appearance in several ‘Best of 2021’ lists and I thought it was fiction, but it is, in fact, a memoir.I usually shy away from books about ‘I have an identity and that’s hard’ because honestly who cares? But while many reviews mention this as being a major theme of the book it’s not *the* theme, which is grief. Zauner loses her mother to cancer, and through the book she describes her mother’s illness and her own grief after her passing. The ‘identity’ angle comes from her mother being one of the only connections she has to the Korean part of her heritage.One of the ways she copes with the loss is delving headlong in Korean cooking. While her mother was ill she wanted to make her favourite Korean dishes in the hopes of encouraging her to eat something. Through this Zauner manages to rekindle some sense of connection with her Korean heritage, and this is where the ‘H Mart’ of the title comes from (a large supermarket chain that specialises in Asian ingredients; there are two stores in London, apparently, but I have never been nor have I cried in either) as it is a favourite place of hers to buy ingredients.I have to say I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. It was touching without being too sentimental, and parts of it were laugh-out-loud funny. Zauner typically makes her living as a musician, I believe, but I think after the monumental success of her first book, I think she should turn her attention to writing full time.
  • Last year, I committed to reading one memoir every month and have since enjoyed some fascinating, real-life stories, some of the celebrity kind, but mostly about ordinary people and their extraordinary experiences.This account by Michelle Zauner disappointingly falls into neither category. In terms of “memoir,” it mostly revolves around the death of her mother from colon cancer, with some references to the challenges of being biracial and connecting with her Korean roots.By far the greatest part of the book, however, is taken up by descriptions of Korean food: buying the ingredients, preparing and cooking them, and then eating the final dishes. Whole pages devoted to gushing prose about this or that culinary experience.Okay, so food was the thing that connected Zauner to her mother. But, I got that message within the first two chapters. I didn’t need it rammed down my throat ad nauseum. About half way through, I started skipping the “foodie” pages completely.Zauner can write; there’s no doubt about that. The chapters describing her mother’s slow decline and death are visceral and poignant. But, the book as a whole feels terribly self-indulgent. There is nothing in it that is particularly remarkable; no profound insights or lessons.My feeling is that Zauner wrote this “memoir” as a form of personal catharsis. And if she achieved this, then I’m happy for her. For me, though, the hype is totally overblown. Except, perhaps, if you’re keen to know how to cook authentic Korean food.Thanks for reading my review. I hope you found it helpful. You can find more candid book reviews on my Amazon profile page.
  • A beautifully written book where food and love of a dying mother come together, effecting greater understanding. Just a little tedious hearing so much about the food, hence 4 not 5, but a good read nonetheless.
  • This book makes you feel things. I read it all in one day and will read it again. I would recommend this to anyone who likes an emotional story.
  • I loved this. As someone who also had a tangled relationship with her mother, it resonated with me. Gorgeous descriptions of cooking and food and how it brings back memories.
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