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 live in the "hermit nation". Who are they? What are their daily lives like? Where do they find contentment?

This book doesn't thoroughly answer those questions - it's narrated by a foreigner, who lawfully can't conduct interviews with average 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 its 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.     


Peace Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765334565
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orb Books - December 11th, 2012

Peace may seem unassuming at first, but there's danger buried underneath the floorboards. If you're looking for subtle horror this Halloween season, this is it. Watch for shadows, be wary of shades - or you might become ensnared as well.   

Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection Cover Image
ISBN: 9781421598468
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: VIZ Media LLC - April 16th, 2019

No other illustrator in horror is able to evoke quite the same crawly, unsettling distress as Junji Ito. His art - uncooked, oozing, and uniquely upsetting - will stay with you long after you've looked away. If you're a horror fan in any capacity, there's a good chance you'll adore his work.

This volume in particular contains some excellent lesser-known short stories (thirteen, to be exact).