Crying in H Mart
When musician Michelle Zauner loses her mother, cooking and eating becomes her anchor to Korean culture.
Michelle Zauner, the artist behind the indie band Japanese Breakfast, has written a memoir not about music but about grief. She writes about growing up as mixed-race and how food can connect us with other people and with our own identity in a way that not even words can. It is a story about loss, grief and cultural exploration.
Caring by cooking
Growing up, the relationship between Michelle Zauner and her mother is far from easy. The author is 25 years old when her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When she comes back to take care of her mother, she connects again with her Korean heritage, learning to cook the comforting meals that her mother craves.
When her mother passes away, Michelle Zauner feels that her Korean identity is also gone, but discovers that cooking and eating Korean food becomes the anchor to her culture. A Korean-American millennial growing up in the United States.
Half of both cultures
As a half Japanese myself, many themes and situations described by Michelle Zauner in this book are very relatable: the impostor syndrome of not being Asian or European enough, the pain of not being able to communicate with relatives due to the language barrier and how Asian food becomes an important element of her identity.
Heartbreak and catharsis
Her raw and honest way to describe the complexities of having a mixed heritage was equally reaffirming and heartbreaking, but mostly cathartic. I would recommend this book to those who want to reflect on family loss, race and identity, on exploration of roots but also to memoir enthusiasts in general. I am pretty sure that anyone can find relatable elements in Michelle Zauner's work.