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"Crying in H Mart": Michelle Zauner Pays Tribute To Her Korean Mother

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Michelle Zauner is the author of "Crying in H Mart" and an indie musician with Japanese Breakfast (photo by Barbora Mrazkova)

(This program was originally broadcast on May 21, 2021)

Today, on this archive edition of Midday, Tom Hall's conversation with Michelle Zauner, a terrific composer and musician who has written a wonderful book. One could also say she’s a compelling writer who has a great and popular band. The band is called Japanese Breakfast. The book is called Crying in H Mart.

Her band is good because her music speaks to universal notions in a unique and universal way. Her book is good because the story is poignant and sad and beautifully told. It’s flecked with joy, regret, and insight, enlarged and invigorated by her ear for beautifully formulated prose, a keen feeling for tempo, and abundant grace. An overarching love and respect permeate every page.

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Penguin Random House Publishers

Ms. Zauner's memoir is a reflection on her relationship with her Korean mother, particularly during the final months of her mother’s life, before she died of cancer. Michelle cared for her mother during her illness, and after her mother’s passing, she found herself drawn to cooking the traditional Korean dishes her Mom and her relatives had made for her while she was growing up.

It’s rare for a debut book to garner as much attention as this one received, but in this case, that attention is richly deserved.

Since Michelle and Tom spoke, it’s been announced that Crying in H Mart will be made into a movie, and that she and her band will write and perform the soundtrack.

Michelle Zauner joined us from New York. Today's conversation was recorded earlier, so we can’t take any new calls or on-line comments.

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Rob is Midday's senior producer.