I’m not sure but I really don’t get the hype on this one. My own mother passed away a couple months ago and Crying in H Mart had been on my wish list for several months. It got great reviews and showed up on the 2021 award lists. I didn’t know if a memoir dedicated by a South Korean musician whose mother died would affect me or not, but I went ahead and got it because if it got me too sad I could change. And I wanted to read this in 2021 for some reason. ?
Crying in H Mart
By Michelle Zauner
2021 (244 pages)
Read by author 7h 23m
Rating: 6 / memoir
It turns out, I just wasn’t all that impressed. Maybe I’ll read it again some time. I mean it was okay but …. Maybe I was blocking some response. Maybe I didn’t want to feel sad about Michelle’s mother when I wasn’t finished mourning my own. Especially I wasn’t much interested in the minutia, the lists of foods and clothes. Maybe this is a good book and I’m just not available to see that.
I think the author should not have read it – her voice got quite sing-song after a bit.
Anyway, it’s a debut book, a memoir which made the New York Times best seller list the 1st week of publication. It’s made several “Best Of Year” lists.
H Mart is a large Korean grocery chain with many locations including in both Portland, OR and New York City. Zauner lived in both and she is trying to connect with her mother through food.
Zauner is South Korean and although she was born in Seoul her family moved to the US when she was quite young. Her father is Jewish American. From the time she was 9 months old the family lived in Eugene Oregon (about 100 miles south of Portland), but returned to Korea often to visit relatives, especially Grandma, in Seoul. Zauner always had to ask them to translate because she never got far in the Korean language. Michelle was an only child and her mom was a homemaker. She was the only child in her neighborhood which was somewhat rural and whe was the only Korean at her school. Also, her mother’s food and child-raising techniques were different from those of her friends. Zauner was not a happy camper.
Food and beauty are super important in Korean women’s culture. Korean wives are like dolls and the competition is to be perfect in every way. The expectations of women are very high and they push themselves. So the time Michelle spent with her mother and aunts was more interesting and insightful.
I’ve read some South Korean fiction and I love North Korean history so I thought this would be more enjoyable.
I now know why my girlfriend couldn’t read My Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Dideon) which came out only a few months after my friend’s husband died. I have a clue anyway. So don’t take this review too seriously