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Publisher's Summary

One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2021

Goodreads Choice Awards 2021: winner, Memoir & Autobiography 

The New York Times best seller from the Grammy-nominated indie rockstar Japanese Breakfast, an unflinching, deeply moving memoir about growing up mixed-race, Korean food, losing her Korean mother and forging her own identity, reclaiming the gifts of taste, language and history her mother had given her.

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter and guitarist. With humour and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. As she grew up, moving to the east coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, performing gigs with her fledgling band - and meeting the man who would become her husband - her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was 25, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language and history her mother had given her.

Vivacious, lyrical and honest, Michelle Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive here as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share and re-listen to.

©2021 Michelle Zauner (P)2021 Penguin Randomhouse LLC

Critic Reviews

"As good as everyone says it is and, yes, it will have you in tears. An essential read for anybody who has lost a loved one, as well as those who haven't." (Marie Claire

"There's a beautiful sureness to her narration throughout, but her voice comes alive when she's describing food: the Korean dishes her mother cooked, learning to make kimchi after her mother's death, her painful attempts to enjoy a meal out with her father in the midst of their grief. By turns funny, heart breaking and self-reflective, this poignant memoir captures all the messy truths of a mother-daughter relationship. Zauner's musical voice - warm, steady and brimming over with emotion - will slide straight into listeners' hearts." (AudioFile)  

"A gut punch of a book.... It is a moving and emotional look at an in imperfect mother-daughter relationship, and how truly heartbreaking it is to lose someone before their time." (Independent)

"Possibly the best book I’ve read all year.... I will be buying copies for friends and family this Christmas." (Rukmini Iyer in the Guardian, 'Best Food Books of 2021') 

"Wonderful.... The writing about Korean food is gorgeous...but as a brilliant kimchi-related metaphor shows, Zauner’s deepest concern is the ferment, and delicacy, of complicated lives." (Victoria Segal, Sunday Times, 'My favourite read of the year')

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What listeners say about Crying in H Mart

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Evocative and heartbreaking yet hopeful and humane

I walked and listened to this book, crying, my heart broken to pieces many times. I can relate to so many things, from identity crisis to losing my mother, then father, and me eventually. I've lived in Korea for almost two decades and I'll have to leave eventually, in a couple of years, probably. I'm still here but listening to all the Koreana listed here with surgical precision, from food, customs, superstitions, behavior... I already miss it all. Highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-05-21

Beautiful story, boring and monotonous narrator.

Really beautiful story of a mother daughter love that is incomparable to any other relationship. I really believe that not all authors should also be the narrator, simply because it is their story. At times the narrator was boring and depressing to listen to and it felt more of a task to listen that it perhaps should!

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  • Min
  • 02-10-22

good

at times it felt like it was being "read"
also a bit too long, could have been edited a bit better
but worth your time. honest and well written.

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  • Eve Georgieva
  • 08-16-22

Powerful memoir on grief, joy and food

What I really enjoyed about this memoir was its rawness, showing the realities of both joy and grief. It’s about grief, anxiety, love and loss, amongst the many flavours of Korean food

“When I go to H Mart, I’m not just on the hunt for cuttlefish and three bunches of scallions for a buck: I’m searching for memories. I’m collecting the evidence that the Korean half of my identity didn’t die when they did.”

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  • A K.
  • 08-15-22

Wow. What a book.

This is an amazing piece of writing. So complex, raw and nuanced. I would definitely recommend, especially as an audio book.

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  • Ellen Sparrow
  • 08-12-22

lovely lovely lovely

wonderful, evocative writing and deeply moving. Hands down one of the best memoirs I've ever read (or in this case listened to) with so much texture and depth to it. Highly recommend.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-31-22

A beautiful and brutal piece

A heartbreaking and cathartic book. Zauner's cultural identity and maternal relationship are expressed vividly in this book.

Crying in H Mart offers the reader a forthright, and at times, terrifying perspective on the experience of loss, through the window of cultural experience.

As someone with a Korean mother, it was beautiful to feel represented through Zauner's own childhood and to connect with another's words in a way I hadn't before.

With this book being so personal Zauner, her narration is a befitting choice. Her voice is steady and almost soothing at times. She isn't flamboyant in her delivery and doesn't need to be. Having another read such a deeply private account would almost seem dishonest.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-19-22

Loved it.

A really touching exploration of grief and the relationship between mother and daughter. Listened in one sitting!

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  • Mr
  • 05-25-22

Soul food

Listened while running and was swept up by emotion on a few occasions. Have been thinking about it for a while since. You don’t need to know Michelle’s music, this is a book about the loss of a mother, about family, food, travel, and how we move through (rather than past) our grief and trauma.
Beautifully read and full of chapters that stand as great essays, or short stories - powerful and bittersweet. Gave me similar feelings as Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.
As a fan I hoped for a little more on the music that has emerged and evolved from this story, but maybe that comes in future writing.

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  • Liv Baker
  • 05-22-22

Beautifully honest and raw

A really brutal, honest, raw memoir. I didn’t ‘enjoy’ reading this book, but now looking back I can say it is a beautiful book. I read this for a book club so it would not be my normal choice of genre. It was an uncomfortable read for me, but it isn’t just about grief & death but about dealing with being mixed race and not feeling like you fit in.
Michelle is a brilliant writer. I would love to see her write more / fiction as her descriptions are fantastic. It also reads like a cook book with fantastic Korean food descriptions and recipes. Maybe not the best for someone who has been through a loss recently, but then again maybe it would be cathartic?

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  • Yoshay
  • 05-13-22

A Must Listen

A staggeringly beautiful and devastating memoir. A deeply needed read for every one, but mostly for offsprings of two vastly different cultures.
A book about identity, loss, grief, healing and navigating one's roots.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-23-21

A memoir that helped me process my own grief

I just wanted to say thank you to Michelle for her candid documentation of her relationship with her mother, family and identity. It verbalised emotions and sentiments I could never find the energy or strength to properly process and for that I am grateful.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-02-22

Emotional

I loved this book. This is everything that a good memoir should be and more. However be warned that you will be left teary eyed and craving traditional Korean food by the time you've finished this masterpiece.

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  • Thabani Tshuma
  • 07-30-22

A work of heart!

a gut punch in the best of ways. I was enraptured from start to finish. Vivid, dynamic, and so full of heart. having recently lost my father each beat resonated even deeper.

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  • Kez
  • 06-18-22

So Mundane & Boring.

I don’t know what the point of this story is?Initially attracted to the book via the preview I persevered trying so hard to get into it however I was let down again and again. Narrator totally depressed me with her monotone voice bringing down the storyline with her.

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  • kristine
  • 06-04-22

first gen immigrant daughters beware

if you want to feel completely unoriginal in all your trauma and experiences as a first generation immigrant daughter, then this book is for you! Michele manages to capture the very essence of the struggle of living between two cultures, from clinging desperately to food as the one thing you could claim to be part of your culture, down to the having to use google translate to speak to your relatives. Entirely too relatable, i had to pause the book several times to catch my breath because i felt wholly attacked. My therapist will be hearing about this. Highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-15-22

cross cultural story

I related to this audio book and it was a really fascinating story. It was a great listen.

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  • Steph Miller
  • 02-01-22

heck

I wanted to hug Michelle throughout this whole book, it is difficult to read about the shame she felt. I appreciated the brutal honesty

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-17-22

I called my parents within 45mins of listening….

Michelle offers hindsight and a story that so many people only think about when they are loosing a parent or have sadly lost them.

You are there with her and her mother as they fight an impossible battle and feel the gamut of emotions with them.

The book gave me hope and perspective to actively start to strengthen my parental relationships as a child and a father.

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  • Kris Tregenza
  • 01-15-22

Poignant, painful, beautiful.

While my experience of palliating my mother was very different, so many moments in this book resonated powerfully with me. There are elements of grief and of loss that are universal parts of the human condition. Thank you Michelle, for sharing these most vulnerable parts of yourself so candidly. Your story is beautiful.

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  • Joyee
  • 01-07-22

Get ready the tissues ready

Such a beautiful spoken story about the love from a daughter to a mother. Makes you realise that life is short and we should spend it with the people we love.