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Nuclear Family: A Novel
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Published:
Catapult 2022
Status:
Available from OverDrive
Description
Winner of the AAAS Book Award for Prose
APALA Adult Literature Honor Book
Shortlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Prize
Longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
A TIME Best Book of the Year
Set in the months leading up to the 2018 nuclear missile false alarm, a Korean American family living in Hawai'i faces the fallout of their eldest son's attempt to run across the Demilitarized Zone into North Korea in this "fresh, inventive, and at times, hilarious novel" (Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of The Descendants)

Things are looking up for Mr. and Mrs. Cho. Their dream of franchising their Korean plate lunch restaurants across Hawaiʻi seems within reach after a visit from Guy Fieri boosts the profile of Cho’s Delicatessen. Their daughter, Grace, is busy finishing her senior year of college and working for her parents, while her older brother, Jacob, just moved to Seoul to teach English. But when a viral video shows Jacob trying—and failing—to cross the Korean demilitarized zone, nothing can protect the family from suspicion and the restaurant from waning sales.
 No one knows that Jacob has been possessed by the ghost of his lost grandfather, who feverishly wishes to cross the divide and find the family he left behind in the north. As Jacob is detained by the South Korean government, Mr. and Mrs. Cho fear their son won’t ever be able to return home, and Grace gets more and more stoned as she negotiates her family’s undoing. Struggling with what they don’t know about themselves and one another, the Chos must confront the separations that have endured in their family for decades.
Set in the months leading up to the 2018 false missile alert in Hawaiʻi, Joseph Han’s profoundly funny and strikingly beautiful debut novel is an offering that aches with histories inherited and reunions missed, asking how we heal in the face of what we forget and who we remember.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
06/07/2022
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781640094871
ASIN:
B09FNXT2NZ
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Joseph Han. (2022). Nuclear Family: A Novel. Catapult.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Joseph Han. 2022. Nuclear Family: A Novel. Catapult.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Joseph Han, Nuclear Family: A Novel. Catapult, 2022.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Joseph Han. Nuclear Family: A Novel. Catapult, 2022.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 03, 2022 18:37:49
Date Updated:
Feb 03, 2023 21:05:47
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Mar 03, 2024 16:41:14
Last Metadata Change:
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      • bioText: JOSEPH HAN was born in Korea and raised in Hawaiʻi. He is an editor for the West region of Joyland magazine, and a recipient of a Kundiman Fellowship in Fiction. His writing has appeared in Nat.Brut, Catapult, Pleiades Magazine, Platypus Press Shorts, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. He received a PhD in English and Creative Writing at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is currently living in Honolulu.
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title
Nuclear Family
fullDescription
Winner of the AAAS Book Award for Prose
APALA Adult Literature Honor Book
Shortlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Prize
Longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
A TIME Best Book of the Year
Set in the months leading up to the 2018 nuclear missile false alarm, a Korean American family living in Hawai'i faces the fallout of their eldest son's attempt to run across the Demilitarized Zone into North Korea in this "fresh, inventive, and at times, hilarious novel" (Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of The Descendants)

Things are looking up for Mr. and Mrs. Cho. Their dream of franchising their Korean plate lunch restaurants across Hawaiʻi seems within reach after a visit from Guy Fieri boosts the profile of Cho’s Delicatessen. Their daughter, Grace, is busy finishing her senior year of college and working for her parents, while her older brother, Jacob, just moved to Seoul to teach English. But when a viral video shows Jacob trying—and failing—to cross the Korean demilitarized zone, nothing can protect the family from suspicion and the restaurant from waning sales.
 No one knows that Jacob has been possessed by the ghost of his lost grandfather, who feverishly wishes to cross the divide and find the family he left behind in the north. As Jacob is detained by the South Korean government, Mr. and Mrs. Cho fear their son won’t ever be able to return home, and Grace gets more and more stoned as she negotiates her family’s undoing. Struggling with what they don’t know about themselves and one another, the Chos must confront the separations that have endured in their family for decades.
Set in the months leading up to the 2018 false missile alert in Hawaiʻi, Joseph Han’s profoundly funny and strikingly beautiful debut novel is an offering that aches with histories inherited and reunions missed, asking how we heal in the face of what we forget and who we remember.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        January 1, 2022

        In 2018, the year of the accidental ballistic missile alert in Hawaii, the Cho family's dream of franchising their Korean plate lunch restaurants across the state is disrupted when son Jacob wanders across the Korean demilitarized zone, possessed by the ghost of a grandfather desperate to find those he left behind in the north. Big in-house enthusiasm.

        Copyright 2022 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        April 1, 2022
        An immigrant family is haunted by the past. Korean-born Han sets his debut novel in Hawaii in 2018, in the months leading up to a false alert of an impending missile attack from North Korea. Central to his tale are Mr. and Mrs. Cho, ambitious Korean immigrants who successfully run a popular plate-lunch restaurant they dream of turning into a chain in hopes that their two grown children, Grace and Jacob, will take over someday. The siblings, though, have other plans: Grace, perpetually (and tediously) stoned, wants "to get off this rock, strap an Acme rocket on her back [and] land in grad school as far away as she [can] get." Jacob, who is gay, doesn't see himself as his mother does: "her representative and living proof, her healthy and tall son, of how well they were doing." When he decides to travel to South Korea to teach English and discover something of his heritage, his parents are delighted, but soon they learn devastating news: Jacob has been arrested for trying to breach the Demilitarized Zone. Back in Hawaii, gossip spreads quickly, the family is shunned, and the restaurant struggles. Jacob, though, is no spy; unwillingly and unwittingly, he has been inhabited by his dead grandfather, who desperately wants to find the family he left behind when he fled North Korea. The ghost sees Jacob as "merely a vessel for his wishes, like how all sons, and grandsons, ought to be." Excited at being embodied, he is intent on making up "for an afterlife of starvation." Jacob's efforts to extricate himself from his selfish "spiritual tumor"--even seeking help from a domineering shaman--test both his strength and hold on reality. Han's surreal fantasy, sometimes devolving into slapstick, contains a serious critique: of the marginalization of Korean immigrants; of the plight of families separated by a politically contrived border; of shattered lives, pain, and guilt. A raucous and adroit debut.

        COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from April 4, 2022
        Han makes a smashing debut with this stunning take on identity and migration told through the multiple perspectives of a Korean American family. The story centers on Jacob Cho, who, while teaching English in South Korea, makes international headlines after attempting and failing to cross into North Korea. It turns out, though, that Jacob was possessed by the ghost of his dead grandfather, Baik Tae-woo. While Jacob is interrogated by South Korean authorities and struggles to understand what’s going on, his parents and younger sister, Grace, living in Honolulu, deal with the resulting fallout at their Korean plate lunch restaurant, which loses business and suffers from vandalism due to rumors about them possibly being North Korean spies. Grace, a senior in college, suffers from panic attacks and gets frequently stoned after Jacob’s incident, and the ghost of Baik Tae-woo is revealed to be a trickster who got Jacob to help him cross the border in order to return to the family he’d abandoned during the Korean War. The family members contend with why Jacob and Grace’s mother moved the family to Hawaii from Korea, and what drove Jacob away. Each short chapter takes readers deep into the heart of each character’s dilemmas, and while it’s heartbreaking, it’s also sharply hilarious, as with a description of television host Guy Fieri, whose airbrushed imprimatur radiates from behind the Chos’ counter: “he who has risen from flame decals, born by accident when his Camaro crashed into the Food Network.” This is a master class from a brilliant new voice.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        July 1, 2022

        DEBUT Set in the author's home state of Hawai'i, this debut novel takes place prior to the 2018 false alarm when a nuclear missile alert was issued throughout the state. Here, readers meet the Cho family, purveyors of a chain called Cho's Delicatessen, which offers Korean-style plate lunches. The business was boosted after being featured on a program with Guy Fieri. The Cho's daughter, Grace, loves smoking cannabis--some of her passages sound like "Harold & Kumar" with a Hawaiian food flair. Grace is finishing her final year of college and regularly helps her parents run the business. Their son Jacob, who's teaching English in South Korea, is suddenly possessed by his grandfather's ghost on a visit to the DMZ, the demilitarized area that acts as a buffer between North and South Korea, but he crosses that zone and gets shot in the process. The ghost wants to find family left behind in the north, but when news of the incident spreads, patronage of the family's business dries up as loyal customers suspect the family of being spies with ties to North Korea. VERDICT Han successfully depicts the love binding the Cho family and the struggles they face, and themes of unity, assimilation, and acceptance run deep, whether it be for the country of Korea, the people of Hawai'i, or humankind more generally. Filled with campy humor, Han's novel will be appreciated by readers looking for a light, fun, yet meaningful read.--Shirley Quan

        Copyright 2022 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from May 1, 2022
        Grace, 21, and Jacob, 25, are Korean Hawaiian on their father's side (three Cho generations are currently islanders); maternally, they are both South and North Korean, with their closest Jeong relatives in Seoul. College senior Grace lives at home and works at their parents' Cho's Delicatessen. Jacob recently moved to Korea to teach English, allowing him to reunite with extended family he hasn't seen since childhood--his mother's older sister, his other grandmother, and, well, his estranged late grandfather. Tae-woo is hungry, lonely, and desperate to return to North Korea, but he's trapped "by the politics of the living and the laws of the dead," unable to cross back home. Possessing, strengthening, and controlling his grandson's body could be his only chance. Images of what seem to be Jacob's attempt to traverse the DMZ get blasted back home, where even the faraway hint of North Korean connection causes havoc in the Chos' lives. Vandalism happens, customers dwindle, roaches appear; meanwhile, Grace approaches addiction. Tragic, funny, and strikingly ingenious, Han's prodigious debut is a spectacular achievement. Seamlessly dovetailed into his sublime multigenerational saga are pivotal history lessons, anti-colonial denunciations, political slaps. For Korean speakers, Han's brilliant linguistic acrobatics will prove particularly enlightening (Jeong is a homophone for jeong, something akin to empathic connection) and shrewdly entertaining.

        COPYRIGHT(2022) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Winner of the AAAS Book Award for Prose
APALA Adult Literature Honor Book
Shortlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Prize
Longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
A TIME Best Book of the Year
Set in the months leading up to the 2018 nuclear missile false alarm, a Korean American family living in Hawai'i faces the fallout of their eldest son's attempt to run across the Demilitarized Zone into North Korea in this "fresh, inventive, and at times, hilarious novel" (Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of The Descendants)

Things are looking up for Mr. and Mrs. Cho. Their dream of franchising their Korean plate lunch restaurants across Hawaiʻi seems within reach after a visit from Guy Fieri boosts the profile of Cho’s Delicatessen. Their daughter, Grace, is busy finishing her senior year of college and working for her parents, while her older brother, Jacob, just moved...
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