Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shelf Life: Nami Mun's Miles From Nowhere

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 8:36 PM

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GENRE: Gritty, inner-city coming-of-age novel

FIRST LINE: “I’d been at the shelter for two weeks and there was nothing to do but go to counseling or lie on my cot and count the rows of empty cots nailed to the floor or watch TV in the rec room, where the girls cornrowed each other’s hair and went on about pulling a date with Reggie the counselor because he looked like Billy Dee Williams and had a rump-roast ass.”

NARRATOR VS. AUTHOR: Miles from Nowhere is narrated by Joon, 13, a Korean immigrant living in the Bronx who runs away from home. Nami Mun, 40, is a Korean immigrant who grew up in the Bronx and ran away from home as a teenager.

THE PUBLISHER CLAIMS:Miles from Nowhere will haunt and inspire a generation of readers.”

NEGATIVE PRESS: An Amazon.com reader says, “This book is wacky…I just wanted it to be over…the book was written so scatter-brained that I thought I was reading journal entries.”

AUTHOR’S BIOGRAPHICAL COMING-OF-AGE MOMENT: “During my runaway years, I kept a journal. I’d write down the events of the day, mostly while riding the subways. Once I sat next to a woman, and I could tell she was reading over my shoulder. I’d write a sentence and she’d make tiny sounds — of either disapproval or dismay. The more I wrote, the louder and more demonstrative she became, saying things outright sometimes and shaking her head. What I remember most is how she never addressed me directly. I don’t think she even saw me, really. Her eyes stayed on my journal and I got the sense that even if I didn’t exist in her world, my words could.”

RESUME BOLD PRINT: Mun graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, received her masters from the University of Michigan, and teaches creative writing at Columbia College Chicago. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and scholarships from the Corporation of Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony.

BIG NAME HYPE FROM THE BACK COVER: “Suspenseful, funny, painful, and poetic, Nami Mun’s debut shows a talent for close observation and a prose which fills the grit of street life with flashes of gold.” — Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander

Nami Mun comes to A Capella Books/The Opal Gallery on Jan. 19, 7 p.m.

(Photo courtesy Amazon.com)

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