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Michelle Zauner Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Michelle Zauner is a Japanese American guitarist and singer that is best known for her band “Japanese Breakfast.” Zauner was born in Seoul, South Korea though she was brought up in the small town of Eugene in Oregon. She currently lives in Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and hopes to one day move back to Brooklyn New York where she once lived. Long before she became a popular and famous member and lead of a rock band, the thirty year old lived in New York but was forced to move to Philly which was more affordable. The lower costs of living in Philadelphia also made it possible to pursue a full time music career. Now that she can afford it, she plans to buy a house in New York since most of her friends have made a home there. Moreover, the Asian food there is way better than what she can find in Philly. Since she now has all the time to think she has all kinds of ideas and in fact was the winner of a Glamour essay writing contest. Since then she has been planning her first memoir to be released in 2021. Her memoir will be about the happy days before her mother got cancer, how she taught herself to cook Korean cuisine and how she studied Korean her mother’s native tongue. While she does a lot of things, she still regrets not taking up the opportunity to perform for Maangchi, her Korean cooking hero and YouTube personality.

Following the death of her mother, Michelle Zauner found it difficult to go back to being the full time do it yourself musician. She thought she should just find a 9 to 5 and make money so that she could have a comfortable retirement with health insurance and benefits. Together with her husband Bradley, they moved to Brooklyn and she got a job working for a company that sold outdoor mural advertising. But still, she found the time after work to dash to the studio where she would write and mix a few sings for the album “Psychopomp.” She had begun putting together the album while she was still resident in Oregon. Since she did not want to go on tour, she got Yellow K, an independent label to produce and release the album. The good thing about her label was that they did not expect her to tour unlike the majors. Michelle thought she had found the anchor she needed but only nine months into her job, she was sacked with a $4000 severance package. It was at this time that she released her first single and with so much time on her hands, she started promoting it. She got some of the songs on her album written about on blogs with positive reviews from the likes of “Pitchfork.” With the right people taking notice, it was not long before the labels started calling and she was soon signed to Dead Oceans.

Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast will be releasing “Crying in H Mart” her new memoir in April 2021. Published via Knopf Publishing, it explores how she reckons with her American Korean identify following the death of her Korean mother. At some point, Zauner looks at the time she burst out sobbing in H Mart, the Asian supermarket and she has said that it was this that inspired the name of her new work. She still remembers crying and asking herself if she was still Korean when she could not pick up the phone and ask what brand of seaweed was good for the stew. During this time, she had channeled her grief into penning music and she has said that it made it possible to cultivate her imagination while she embraced Korean culture and food. It also made her feel closer to the mother she just lost. She was so productive during this time that she wrote material enough for two albums. It was all in an effort to distill all that loneliness, confusion and heavy darkness that she felt from being all alone in the world. Michelle then spent three years trying to capture her mother’s brilliant spirit and character. She felt firsthand what it felt to be an Asian American brought up by a Korean immigrant living in the west coast on a very small town with a mostly white population. Many were the times when she felt shame for being a mixed race person. However, her embracing of her Korean culture and food helped her come to terms with her childhood and reconnect her with what was otherwise a very good upbringing.

“Crying in H Mart” is an elegant story of endurance, grief, food and family. Michelle Zauner shows that she is more than a guitarist, songwriter, and dazzling singer. She had always been a food connoisseur and in a memoir that tells a story of growing up, there is a lot about food in it. Writing with heart and humor, she tells of how she grew up an outsider since she was one of the very few American Asian students in her class in Eugene Oregon. Her mother had very high expectations of her and she struggled to attain them even as she grew into a troubled adolescent that often spent their holidays in a tiny apartment in Seoul where they would go to visit her grandmother. They would bond and share plates of food, meager as it were. After graduating from high school, she moved to the East coast to go to university before she started working in the hospitality industry. In the evenings she would meet up with the band for practice and during this time, she met the man that she would later marry. Her Koreaness seemed to recede even further even as she had a semblance of the life she had always wanted to live. But when her mother got a terminal cancer diagnosis, she started rethinking her identity as a twenty five year old Korean-American. She started thinking of ways of reclaiming the history, language and taste left to her by her mother. It is honest, lyrical, plainspoken and vivacious story in which Zauner’s voice comes alive just as it does when she is performing on stage. It comes with intimate stories that will resonate with almost anyone.

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