Review: Crying in H Mart (a memoir) by Michelle Zauner

Carolina Asian Market
Carolina Asian Market

Originally written as an essay after her mother’s untimely passing, this memoir tells the author’s struggle with her half-Korean identity while growing up in a small town in Oregon. Just as she began to discover herself as an adult in her twenties, she lost her strongest connection to being Korean when her mother died a few short months after being diagnosed with a late-stage cancer that runs in her mother’s family.

The author came home to take care of her mother. As she watched, her mother rapidly declined in the last few weeks. They both scrambled to gather old memories and create new ones by planning a trip to South Korea. After the mother’s death, the author dealt with her grief and found comfort by recreating many of the Korean dishes that she used to share with her mother. This requires her to take frequent trips to H Mart, an Asian grocery store chain that carries many of the ingredients she could not otherwise find.

This is a touching meditation on loss and mother-daughter relationship. It’s filled with descriptions of scrumptious Korean delicacy that reminds us of how much love is shared over meals with our loved ones.

Zauner is an artist and singer who performs under the name Japanese Breakfast.

By Magfirah Dahlan

Editor’s note: We requested permission to use an image of the cover of Crying in H Mart from the publisher, but we haven’t received a response so we used the photo taken from inside of Carolina Asian Market located at 2509 Neuse Blvd. in New Bern, NC.  – Wendy Card