Rated R Boy: Growing Up Korean in 1980s Queens is a memoir of one family’s move from South Korea to the United States. Told by its child narrator, it describes life in mid-1970s Korea and compares it to life in America, where he is exposed to things that challenge what he’d held to be sacrosanct.
Despite the rise in diversity in Young Adult literature, not least stories by Asian writers, there’s still a dearth of stories starring strong Asian males, perhaps due to the fact that most YA authors are women.
There are many novels by Western authors sojourning in Asia. Stories that go the other way around are as rare as hens’ teeth.
In the dead of winter, a Frenchman arrives at a small guest house in Sokcho where Franco-Korean author Elisa Shua Dusapin’s narrator works in a dead-end job as receptionist and run-about. Sokcho is a nondescript seaside town not far from the North Korean border. In the summer, Sokcho is a beach resort, if not the most upmarket; in winter, there is not much going on.
Eun Ji Koh was a typical Californian teenager before her immigrant parents surprised Koh and her brother with some startling news. Her father had been offered a far more lucrative job back in Seoul than he could ever expect to be offered in the US. It isn’t uncommon for immigrants to return to their countries of birth for better employment opportunities, but in this case Koh and her brother would be staying behind.
Former Monty Python’s star Michael Palin aims with North Korean Journal to do for Pyongyang what The Life of Brian did for the New Testament. He almost succeeds.
The great Swiss travel writer Nicolas Bouvier began his career in 1963 with L’Usage du Monde, an account of a journey from Geneva to the Khyber Pass. Published in English as The Way of the World, the book earned him cult status amongst travel-writing aficionados, its distinctive sensibility and supremely elegant prose elevating it well above the myriad other 20th-century travel books featuring well-heeled young Europeans traversing sections of the old Silk Road.