<Temple ICAS Book Talk> Krys Lee, author of How I Became a North Korean

Robert  Dujarric's picture
October 7, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Humanities, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Korean History / Studies, Social History / Studies, Literature
  • Date: Friday, October 7, 2016
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. (doors open at 7:00 p.m.)
  • Venue:Temple University Japan Campus, Mita Hall 5F (access: http://www.tuj.ac.jp/maps/tokyo.html)
  • Speaker: Krys Lee, award-winning author and Assistant Professor of creative writing and literature at Yonsei University, Underwood International College, in South Korea
  • Moderator: Mariko Nagai, Director of Research and Associate Professor, Temple University, Japan Campus
  • Admission: Free. Open to public
  • Language: English
  • RSVP:icas@tuj.temple.edu
    * If you RSVP you are automatically registered.  If possible, we ask you to RSVP but we always welcome participants even you do not RSVP.

HOW I BECAME A NORTH KOREAN introduces readers first to Yongju, the elder son and accomplished student of a prominent North Korean family on the cusp of violent political persecution by the Dear Leader. Then there is Jangmi, a fellow North Korean who has fended for herself since childhood, often by smuggling goods across the border, now pregnant and desperate to protect her unborn child. Across the ocean in California, Danny is a Chinese-American whose quirky intelligence has caused him to be ostracized by other high school students. After a particularly humiliating incident, his father agrees to let him fly to see his mother, who is working as a missionary in China. In order to escape their circumstances, Yongju, Jangmi and Danny cross borders—struggling against informants, husbands, thieves, abductors, and even missionaries in the process—and eventually cross paths with one another. Against a harsh and unforgiving backdrop, they form a kind of adoptive family—but will they ever find the better lives that they risked everything for?

Krys Lee’s first book, Drifting House, won the 2012 Story Prize Spotlight Award and was named a best book of the year by The San Francisco Chronicle and Kansas City Star, which likened Lee’s work to that of Jhumpa Lahiri and Alice Munro. HOW I BECAME A NORTH KOREAN, her first novel, was inspired by Lee’s personal experiences as a humanitarian helping North Korean refugees. This suspenseful, emotional literary work merits comparison to novels by Anthony Marra, Téa Obreht, and Adam Johnson, all of which shed light on conflicts in different parts of the world through masterful storytelling.

She will be in conversation with Mariko Nagai on the origins and inspiration behind  HOW I BECAME A NORTH KOREAN, and the delicate balance between fiction and non-fiction. For more information please visit http://kryslee.net/press/how-i-became-a-north-korean/

"A forceful debut novel...not just another simplistic indictment of a country in thrall to its Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, but a compelling vision of both North and South Korea."
— New York Times Book Review

Krys Lee is the author of the short story collection Drifting House and How I Became a North Korean (http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/309864/how-i-became-a-north-korean-by-krys-lee/9780670025688/)  She is a recipient of the Rome Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, the Honor Title in Adult Fiction Literature from the Asian/Pacific American Libraries Association, and a finalist for the BBC International Story Prize. Her fiction, journalism, and literary translations have appeared in Granta, The Kenyon Review, Narrative, San Francisco Chronicle, Corriere della Sera, and The Guardian, among others. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Yonsei University, Underwood International College, in South Korea.

Contact Info: 
Robert Dujarric, Director
Kyle Cleveland, Associate Director
Eriko Kawaguchi
, Senior Coordinator

Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies
Temple University, Japan Campus

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