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, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Indie rocker Michelle Zauner went viral in 2017 with a New Yorker essay about mourning her Korean-born mother in the aisles of her favorite Asian-American supermarket. Zauner’s memoir expands on that story with a deeply emotional series of vignettes about growing up as a mixed-race child in Eugene, Oregon. We follow Zauner as she bonds with her traditionally minded mother over their shared love of Korean food and watch them grow apart when she pursues a music career against her mom’s wishes. Delivered in a straightforward reading that’s as beautifully unadorned as her this-is-what-happened prose, Zauner’s book is full of vivid moments. Her depiction of her mother’s sudden illness and death is devastating, although her stories about the rom-com-like scramble to marry her grad-student boyfriend while her mom is still around had us laughing through the tears. It’s when Zauner talks about eating and preparing food that Crying in H Mart becomes more than just another memoir about loss. It’s also a celebration of pleasure, experience, and life that’ll leave you with a serious craving for bulgogi and bibimbap.
Recognizable in a way
It’s recognizable, the raw and pure emotions and the cultural differences in a household. Sad but that’s okay, we all are sad with loss (both mom and dad in a way) and some regret, and coming to terms with it all.
Beautiful, realistic honoring
Sad but well written. I especially loved her beautiful descriptions of Korean food and her relationship to it and the connection to her family. Makes you connect to your own life. Good book!
Beautifully written series of essays that paint a vivid story of Michelle’s life and her complex relationship with her mother. I looked at the physical book in local stores a few times but ended up with the audio. Wise choice for me. I obsess over unfamiliar words and it pulls me out of the story when I try to pronounce correctly and end up searching online for foods mentioned, etc.
Unforgettable words and descriptions will draw you into her world and keep you there. She’s raw and honest. Her depictions of grief and dying are all too familiar and will make you cry. I appreciated the exposure of the ugliness of grief. It’s real. Her comfort in cooking her mother’s favorite recipes gave me cravings for Korean food.
She’s had an interesting life and was able to tell her story well.