Zoe's Staff Picks

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See You Again in Pyongyang: A Journey into Kim Jong Un's North Korea Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316509145
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - May 28th, 2019

Stories of life in North Korea are so often exaggerated and sensationalized that it's difficult for insiders and outsiders alike to decide what's fact and what's fiction, especially when each and every story is centered in a national narrative that changes on a whim. Survivors' stories are valuable, but when survival begets fame and becomes someone's livelihood - as in the case of Yeonmi Park, whose autobiography famously vacillates in content between talk circuit, stage, and written record - mistakes are inevitably made, and shock value is prioritized over truth. 

I am far more intrigued by the stories that, by nature, are the most difficult to extract - that is, those of people who still do live in the "hermit nation". Who are they? What are their daily lives like?

This book doesn't thoroughly answer those questions - it's narrated by a foreigner, who by law couldn't conduct interviews with citizens - but Jeppesen's observations serve as a window into that world, however small. It ranks up there with Barbara Demick's Nothing To Envy in empathy, insight, and attention to detail. As borders continue to thin, I can only hope more books like this are written.         

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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525562023
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - June 4th, 2019

This book is lovely. Vuong's tender, intimate writing folds the reader into the story, imbuing even the uglier moments with nostalgia. Though our main character is haunted by trauma inherited from both his family and his own personal misfortune, the entire novel aches with love and dreamy hope. This is an immigrant story, a coming-of-age story, and most of all a testament to survival.     


Six Months, Three Days, Five Others Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765394897
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor.com - October 17th, 2017

This is a really fun collection of short stories. Anders is a sharp writer. (IN PROGRESS OOPS)