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Micro Review: Yoon Choi's "Skinship"
Nicole Zhao reviews "Skinship"
Through an indelible array of lives, Yoon 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. “Skinship” is suffused with a profound understanding of humanity and offers a searing look at who the people we love truly are.
Micro Review by Nicole Zhao
“Skinship” is Yoon Choi's incredible debut collection of short stories about the Korean diaspora. Choi takes on a variety of fascinating perspectives with deep insight and nuance, illuminating each character's humanity in all their contradictions, flaws, and endearing qualities. The stories' points of view range from a piano prodigy on the autism spectrum; a begrudged, long-married wife tasting the excitement and memory of an old flame; an elementary school student who makes a new Indian-American friend; to an old man suffering from Alzheimer’s; and a transracial adoptee apprenticing as a home health aide. Flipping through each chapter was like turning the knob of a kaleidoscope on the Korean diasporic experience. In one of my favorite stories of the collection, "First Language," Choi writes in the first-person perspective of a woman whose English is "imperfect," without at all compromising the depth and profundity of her thoughts or her heartwarming love for her son borne outside her marriage.
While the stories each come from a different point of view, they are all compassionate tales of loss, forgiveness, resentment, humor, and hope. What was most impressive was Choi's ability to render the flaws and shortcomings of her narrators and protagonists with such fidelity and candor that they are immediately recognizable as human and natural, as well as her perfect capturing of the minor and major humiliations her characters experience. This collection astounded and heartened me. I'll be returning to these stories often and highly recommend reading them.
Nicole Zhao lives and writes in New York City. Her writing has received support from VONA/Voices and the Sewanee Writers' Conference and has been published in Apogee Journal. Find her online at @nicolegzhao.
You can purchase “Skinship” here.
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