By Grace Jung
In this debut novel from author Grace Jung, questions of race, identity, and history are constantly challenged and examined through the eyes of a 23-year-old Korean-American woman navigating the unpredictable landscapes of New York City and Seoul. LJ has just returned from a year-long residency in Seoul with a manuscript of translated Korean short fiction that publishers have all turned down. To get by in the city, she juggles two jobs—a copyeditor 5 days a week, and on the weekends, a cashier at a deli in Midtown, where patrons challenge and objectify her based on her looks as an Asian woman. While dealing with pressures to make a decision between her career path and her goal as a writer in an economically depressed state, she makes mental escapes back to her past life in Seoul and the times she spent with Daniel. These memories offer up cues to her self-discovery as an artist, regardless of her background and what lies before her. By simply recognizing herself as a writer, she realizes that alone is a stable basis for her to continue forward; LJ doesn’t feel so oppressed by her future anymore—in fact, she feels liberated.
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