In short stories, Choi explores where first and second generations either clash or find common ground, where meaning falls in the cracks between languages, where relationships bend under the weight of tenderness and disappointment, where displacement turns to heartbreak.
The impossibility of fully knowing someone else, or indeed oneself (the inevitable lacunae!), is an eternal theme of fiction, framed in infinite ways. The immigrant experience, in which multicultural characters necessarily navigate these gaps, is one such frame, and Yoon Choi’s beautiful debut story collection Skinship (Knopf, $26) uses it to bring a rich and engaging new voice to contemporary American letters. With refreshing amplitude, patience, and (dare I say) wisdom, Choi’s stories explore the complexities of her characters’ diverse experiences ... In each story, Choi evokes a world entire, an endeavor that extends beyond content into form.
... there is an element of affection, one that seeps through every page of Choi’s debut ... Choi’s characters live, forget, make bonds, break them, heal them or not. Their affections are no less deep for the circumstances that often separate them from one another.
Believe the hype. Choi's collection of short stories is an inventive, dazzling work that probes the Korean-American experience from myriad angles and perspectives, wielding the double-edged sword of the hyphen to superb effect. Each piece is a banger ... She moves confidently between countries and decades, enriching her surfaces with details from the methods of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff to foods found in a Korean deli (beef leg bones and rainbow rice cakes) ... Choi brings not only a mastery of technique but also a wry humor to her characters ... She probes relationships — particularly marriage — with candor ... From its intricate architecture to its beautifully crafted sentences, Skinship is one of this year's literary triumphs.