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HomeEntertainmentWhat We’re Reading: 4 Korean American memoirs, from personal stories to an...

What We’re Reading: 4 Korean American memoirs, from personal stories to an unsettling confrontation on identity and assimilation



But because, as they say, I heard good things about this one, heard good things about that one. Soon you realize, like most memoirs, regardless of the author, the real subject is identity. But unlike most memoirs, there’s not a dud in this bunch. “Tastes Like War” (The Feminist Press, $18) by Grace M. Chow, which is up for a National Book Award next week, is probably the most conventionally terrific, the story of how Chow, daughter of a schizophrenic Korean woman and a white American soldier, investigates her own mother. “In my lifetime I’ve had at least three,” she writes. When her mother shows signs of delusion, a 15-year-old Chow scrambles for answers; as the family deteriorates, as Grace grows older and learns to live with the unease of a troubled parent, she reassembles her mother’s past through her mother’s recipes. Meals — it’s often the common denominator of the contemporary memoir. “Crying in H Mart” (Knopf, $27), a recent bestseller, by Michelle Zauner (better known as the lead of the indie band Japanese Breakfast), is another parental reckoning. In this case, it’s partly a warm, ennui-fueled memory of a dying mother and her love of food: “She loved roasted chestnuts in winter though they gave her horrible gas. She liked salted peanuts with light beer. She drank two glasses of chardonnay almost every day but would get sick if she had a third.”



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