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Koh Releases Personal Memoir

Contributed by Megan Richard

Renowned author and poet, E.J. Koh, releases her newest work in 2020: a memoir sharing the relationship of struggles and growth between her and her mother.

Book Synopsis

After living in America for over a decade, Eun Ji’s parents return to Korea for work, leaving 15-year-old Eun Ji and her brother behind in the family’s new California home. Overnight, Eun Ji finds herself in a world made strange in her mother’s absence. Her mother writes letters over the years seeking forgiveness and love - letters Eun Ji cannot understand until she finds them years later hidden in a box.

The letters lay bare the impact of her mother’s departure, as Eun Ji gets to know the woman who raised her and left her behind. Eun Ji is a student, a traveler, a dancer, a poet, and a daughter coming to terms with not only her parents’ prolonged absence but her family’s history: her grandmother Jun’s years as a lovesick wife in Daejeon, the horrors her grandmother Kumiko witnessed during the Jeju Island Massacre. Where, Koh asks, do the stories of our mothers and grandmothers end and ours begin? How do we find words - in Korean, Japanese, English, or any language - to articulate the profound ways that distance can shape love?

The Magical Language of Others is a fearless and poetic mind grappling with forgiveness, reconciliation, legacy, and intergenerational trauma - conjuring an epic saga and love story between mothers and daughters spanning four generations.


This book is amazing, and walks a fine line between prose and poetry, telling the stories of women, abandonment, war, death, family relationships and all from the eyes of different generations in different countries. This author has a great future. - Goodreads Reviewer

This remarkable little book stirred up such heavy emotion within me. You'd quickly realize Koh is a poet, even without reading so in her bio. The way she frames her story, the words she picks, that intimate connection she makes with you in less than 200 pages, the honest biting beauty in all of it, ahhh, I'm still gushing over this book. 5 brilliant stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Goodreads Reviewer

About the Author

Author of poetry collection A Lesser Love, winner of the Pleiades Editors Prize (Louisiana State University Press, 2017), and memoir The Magical Language of Others (Tin House, 2020). Koh's poems, translations, and stories have appeared in Academy of American Poets, Prairie Schooner, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Slate, and World Literature Today. Koh accepted fellowships from the American Literary Translators Association, MacDowell Colony, Kundiman, Vermont Studio Center, and others.

Source: Amazon and Goodreads


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