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Nuclear Family (Compact Disc)
June 2022 Indie Next List
“This stunning debut follows a young man who, possessed by his grandfather’s ghost, attempts to cross the Demilitarized Zone in North Korea. A remarkable — and at turns hilarious — story of family, grief, and intergenerational trauma.”
— Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
Things are looking up for Mr. and Mrs. Cho.
Their dream of franchising their Korean plate lunch restaurants across Hawai'i seems within reach after a visit from Guy Fieri boosts the profile of Cho's Delicatessen. Their daughter, Grace, is busy finishing her senior year of college, while her older brother, Jacob, just moved to Seoul to teach English. But when a viral video shows Jacob trying--and failing--to cross the Korean demilitarized zone, nothing can protect the family from suspicion and the restaurant from waning sales.
No one knows that Jacob has been possessed by the ghost of his lost grandfather, who feverishly wishes to cross the divide and find the family he left behind in the north. As Jacob is detained by the South Korean government, Mr. and Mrs. Cho fear their son won't ever be able to return home, and Grace gets more and more stoned as she negotiates her family's undoing. Struggling with what they don't know about themselves and one another, the Chos must confront the separations that have endured in their family for decades.
Set in the months leading up to the 2018 false missile alert in Hawai'i, Joseph Han's profoundly funny and strikingly beautiful debut novel is an offering that aches with histories inherited and reunions missed, asking how we heal in the face of what we forget and who we remember.