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Joseph Han Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Nuclear Family (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Joseph Han is a Korean Literary fiction writer brought up in Hawaii. He works as an editor for the West region of Joyland magazine. His debut novel appeared in Nat. Brut, Catapult Platypus Press Shorts, Pleiades Magazine and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

Han holds a PhD IN English and Creative writing from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. The author also works as a recipient of a Kundiman Fellowship in Fiction.

Nuclear Family
The novel features a Korean American family residing in Hawaii and owning a franchise of restaurants. After the immigration, the parents had relatives on both sides of Korea.

Things are good for Mr and Mrs Cho as their dream of selling Korean dishes across Hawaii comes true after Guy Fieri’s visit boosts the restaurant’s popularity and profile. Most of the story narrates the events leading to Jacob Cho trying and failing to cross the Korean demilitarized border.

Their daughter Grace is a college student in her senior year with a relish for weed and still works in the family restaurant. Jacob had gone to be an English teacher in Seoul; one day, as Grace and her father are watching the news, a viral video shows Jacob’s failed attempt to cross the border to North Korea.

His family is angry, confused and scared, fearing that people might start suspecting their family, which may lead to the restaurant’s low sales. The family has no means of communicating with Jacob because the South Korean authorities have arrested him.

Some of the chapters in the book focus mostly on Jacob’s attempt to give the reader an insight into the circumstances that made him do what he did. The author lets the reader learn more about his childhood in Hawaii, where he was often made feel like a stranger. He was also unfairly judged when it came to his desires and sexuality.

Jacob is haunted by the ghost of his lost grandfather, who seems to intend to possess him. The spirit dragged him to the South and North Korea border as it wished to cross the border and locate his family that he left in the North. As the South Korean government is holding Jacob, Mr and Mrs Cho are afraid he might never get the chance to return home.

Grace, on the other side, stones more while negotiating her family’s actions. As they struggle with what they might not know about their family, the Cho’s are left with no choice except confront the separation that has been in the family for decades.

Jacob appears affiliated with a mysterious restlessness that leads to rashes and fatigue. His sense of alienation is exacerbated in Seoul; although he is seen as a Korean, he doesn’t speak the language fluently and has behaviors of an American that sometimes makes him feel odd.

The Cho family’s reputation is at stake after Jacob’s video spreads, and they fear their business might go down. What they don’t understand is that the spirit of his grandfather has possessed him and is seeking to go home.

Their frequent customers have started eating in other places while their neighbors and friends avoid them as most of them rejoice in their fall. They even spread false rumors about them, saying that they are spies.

As all this is going on, Grace is resentful of her parents and Jacob and the ‘special treatment her was administered while growing up as she tries to smoke away her problems.
The story is set in months before the 2018 nuclear missile false alarm. Joseph Han shows how the generational trauma of Korea at war, colonization of Hawaii and Kore and the country’s division led to adverse effects on families.

He brings on to the literary scene with original magical realist family comedy and political satire that rotates around a stoner girl, her brother, the deli owner’s parents, spirit of their Korean grandfather on his afterlife quest for cultural healing.

Han does an excellent job of showing the sense of loss that most Koreans suffered after the country was split into North and South. After the split, the families never saw each other again, which is why the spirit of Jacob’s grandpa is seeking his people that he left back in North Korea.

There are themes of Family connection, colonization, the loss of connection, the myth of the model citizen and the struggles the Koreans face. Elements such as magical realism, humor and historical fiction are evident in the novel.

Han covers the topics from multi-generational family complications and the 2018 nuclear missile false alarm. Nuclear family should be your pick if you are looking for a story that gets you sucked in right from the beginning and keeps you hooked to the end.

He shows how history possesses the present and how one’s personal stories remain alive in their descendants even when the stories were left unspoken. Han also introduces governments with the militaries in conjunction with global powers and boundaries. The book is an experiment in creating a new vision that allows people to deconstruct borders of all kinds.

Nuclear family points out teenage gloom and the burden of one’s family to give an innovative and hilarious read. It’s an original and spellbinding read with a haunting, powerful and hilarious testament to the pull of history.

The story is heartfelt, bringing the reader into the narra

tive where questions of family, forgiveness, queerness and borders will shock you. The prose is excellent, tossing stories people are told and the ones they seek to find out themselves.
Nuclear Family is a fun read about a family going through hard times in their lives. It invites the unfamiliar and willing to explore the world with an open mind and heart. Hans uses his linguistic skills to enlighten the reader on various issues people face in life. He shows how the plight of families separated by the political borders shattered lives, causing pain and guilt.
Nuclear Family will pass you through laughter and intriguing complexity as you pay attention to the details of Cho’s family struggles.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Joseph Han

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