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Publisher's Summary

From the indie rock star 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 Korean-ness 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 25, 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 enjoy many times.

©2021 Michelle Zauner (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"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." (Refinery29)

“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)

"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, a love that is charted in vivid descriptions of her mother after death; in a time when people around the world are reckoning with untold loss due to COVID-19, Zauner’s frankness around death feels like an unexpected yet deeply necessary gift." (Vogue)

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What listeners say about Crying in H Mart

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Broken Korean

I can’t really describe in words what this book means to me. As a first generation Korean American, Michelle Zauner’s memoir is more than her life and losing her mom at an early age. “Crying in H Mart” is a sentiment to all first generation Korean American raised in America. We are neither Koreans or Americans because our birth place is different from our ethnicity, but yet we have two cultures to deal with all the time. It’s really difficult to explain if you were raised with one language in the household. Many first generations are multilingual and we need to switch one language to the other as we communicate with our family’s native language. A lot of times, we are confused about how to identify ourselves because our Korean is nowhere near perfect from our parents.

I’m really glad that the author narrates her own book because her Korean dialogue is so comforting to listen to because that is how we speak at family gatherings when there is a variety of cultures in the house. My Korean relatives say that me and my brothers sound more American even though we are speaking in broken Korean. But yet our parents label us as being American first because we were born and raised in the States.

I first learned about Michelle Zauner when she did an interview on The Sporkful podcast. I was instantly hooked when she described what it’s like to be shopping at H Mart and see all of the foods that her mom made for her. Fortunately, my parents are still with us and as they get older, I cherish my mom’s cooking more each time I ask her to make me kimchi jjigae. Other than my grandma who has long passed away, my eomma is the only person who knows how spicy to make the strew. There is nothing like having my mom’s kimchi.

I cannot recommend this book enough, especially if you are Korean American. I really hope that this book gets translated into hangug because I will be buying a copy for my parents because it will explain a lot to them on what it’s like being Korean American.

15 people found this helpful

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stunning

incredibly beautiful memoir from a gifted writer. masterful use of lyrical language. listening to the author herself read her work was an experience I found to be very special and heartwarming. highly recommend. I'm thankful for Zauner's art.

6 people found this helpful

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Crying with you.

I listened to your words in 2 days. I soaked them in. I cried with you reflecting my own loss. Thank you.

5 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written and read.

Heartbreakingly beautiful. As a person who lost a parent at a young age to cancer, I really connected with Michelle's experience.

4 people found this helpful

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My mom

I listen to the entire book in 1 day. Off the bat, she made me cry before I even finish the first chapter. The love between the author and her mother is so precious and in a way, it made me jealous. I had a similar upbringing as the author except that I don't have a loving mother like hers. My mother is currently fighting late-stage cancer very similar to the author so I can relate to what she went through. The author and I share the same cultural background, I fully understood all the cultural items and subjects she mentioned in her book. It's beautifully written and I truly enjoyed listening to her stories.

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so freaking good

An incredible story that I'm grateful Michelle shared. I'm not good at describing good writing but this was fantastic.

3 people found this helpful

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Enthralling story from a great story teller

I was so enamored with the story that I listened to it all in one day. Read if you want to be sad and hungry.

3 people found this helpful

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wow

What a beautiful and moving book. Found myself crying while driving home from work while listening to it. Cannot recommend it enough.

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Gorgeously delicious memoir!

There was laughter, there was hunger, there were tears. I'm almost at a loss for words, this is just such a well done memoir. It's honest and vivid, heartfelt and vulnerable. I just adored it. I mean wow! I'm equally moved as I am starved! I can't wait to go back to Hmart and sit in the food court with a whole new perspective! Brava, Michelle! Brava!

2 people found this helpful

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Good Grief! (literally...)

As a person who lost their parent and best friend in one fell swoop— Crying In H-Mart is the most raw, real, and heartbreakingly accurate book on grieving the loss of a parent that i’ve found. I preordered this audiobook as soon as I was able and I was waiting for a long time for this book to be released. To say it surpassed my expectations is an understatement. I laughed, I cried, I felt comforted, and I felt extremely heard and understood for the first time since my father died. Bravo, Michelle Zauner!

2 people found this helpful