Countdown: My 10th Favorite Read This Year Is…

We’re counting down the days left until we run out of time for our Kickstarter project, and we desperately need your support to launch. In the meantime, I’ll be counting down my ten favorite reads this year, whether the books were published in 2013 or not. Many of the books were from this year; it truly was a great year for exciting, vital, heart-rending reading. So let’s begin with the book in the number ten spot…

Snow Hunters, Paul Yoon

Snow Hunters is the novel debut of acclaimed short story writer Paul Yoon. His spare, haunting portraits of Korea around the time of World War II and the Korean war are often haunting, and there is a kind of soundless brilliance in Snow Hunters. Like other short stories of his, the novel has a feeling of trauma quietly haunting every interaction; our narrator, a withdrawn man who has finally left a POW camp in the Korean war to work as a tailor’s assistant in South America, is unable or unwilling to connect with people around him. He prefers the safety and reliability of objects and the work he does. When moments of kindness do come, they’re small and restrained, but end up feeling startling in this very gray world.

Yoon seems like a writer after Hemingway’s heart, someone who captures horror through minimalism and suggestion, and who uses restraint and silence. At time the book seemed a little too restrained, implying depth that wasn’t always there. But ultimately, the book did find its own measure of depth, and ended up being quite moving.

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