How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee [in Library Journal]
After the brutal murder of his father and the wrenching separation from his mother and sister, Yongju must survive a new life of deprivation after his privileged upbringing as the only son of one of North Korea’s power elite. Danny, a misfit immigrant teen in southern California, abandons his father to join his mother in China, only to run away, feeling she’s betrayed his trust. Jangmi, desperate to protect her unborn child, escapes her North Korean village and becomes the purchased wife of a damaged Chinese man with a spoiled daughter.
Through an unlikely combination of adversity and serendipity, the three young people will converge in a house of God – as victims of abuse and beneficiaries of benevolence. Drawing on her personal experiences working with North Korean refugees, Lee crafts an extraordinary narrative that is both contemporary testimony and literary achievement.
Verdict: Arriving five years after her exquisite short story collection debut, Drifting House, Lee’s first novel should further elevate her reputation as one of the most elegant, impeccable voices of her youthful generation. Devotees of authors able to navigate effortlessly between short and longer forms, including Jhumpa Lahiri and Adam Johnson, will certainly be blessed to discover Lee’s work.