‘Crying in H Mart’ memoir recalls prickly mother-daughter bond

After her mother’s death, Michelle Zauner was drawn to Korean food markets, where she cried in the aisles while clutching ingredients that brought back memories of meals her mother had cooked. In 2018, Zauner – who leads the indie rock band Japanese Breakfast – transformed that gastronomical bond into a moving essay about finding connection to one’s family through food for The New Yorker. That essay became the basis for a full-fledged memoir with the same title, “Crying in H Mart.” 

Zauner’s mother emerges as the dominant figure as Zauner details their turbulent-though-loving relationship with candor and humor, even as she grieves her mother’s absence.

Like many immigrant parents, Zauner’s mother, who was from South Korea, held tightly to her culture and attempted to impress it upon her American child. This did not go well, especially for Zauner, who was the only biracial child among her all-white peers in Eugene, Oregon. 

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