Stories spanning countries and generations, by Jo Lloyd, Yoon Choi and Hilma Wolitzer

SKIN Stories By Yoon Choi 284 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $ 26. The word “skinship” is a bit difficult to pin down. In medical contexts...

By Yoon Choi
284 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $ 26.

The word “skinship” is a bit difficult to pin down. In medical contexts, it is used to describe the physical bond between a mother and her child. But in Korean culture, it is a coat rack of the two English words “skin” and “friendship”, which signify non-sexual but affectionate physical contact between friends or loved ones (especially, more recently, among the stars of K-pop). But in every sense of the word, there is an element of affection, which permeates every page of Choi’s early days. In “First Language”, Matthew, a Korean child whose mother took him to the United States to live with her new husband, is sent to Second Chance Ranch, a Christian institution to “turn rowdy boys into disciplined and decent men. “. The pastor accuses him of making “overtures” to the other boys (“love letters… gestures”) – as a way to get attention. Going to get him, his mother reflects on the pastor’s syntax: “Do you know a word he said that I can’t forget?” This word that begins with A. The thing Matthew wants. In Korean, “this word is jeong, “she said.” It’s that happy heart feeling when you see someone. “

In “A Simplified World Map,” Ji-won, a friendless Korean third-grader in New York City, finds the company of a young girl of Indian descent. When Ji-won’s mother sees their class photo and comments on the darkness of her friend’s skin, Ji-won thinks, “It was true. Anjali was gloomy. It was also true that Anjali looked like Anjali. But later in the story, when a lice epidemic shakes the class, Ji-won joins his classmates in making fun of Anjali, whose curly, black, waist-deep hair had been infected. , then “cut off at his ears” – the only publicly visible victim of the event. The characters of Choi live, forget, weave bonds, break them, heal them or not. Their affections are no less profound for the circumstances which often separate them from one another.

By Hilma Wolitzer
179 pages. Bloomsbury. $ 26.

A 1960s Housewife Domestic Dramas form a novel within the stories within Wolitzer’s New Collection, the first book by the veteran fiction writer (and Guggenheim Fellow and National Endowment for the Arts) since her birth. 2012 novel, “A man available. “The linked stories follow Paulette and her husband, Howard, during childbirth; a scandal in the basement laundry room of their New York apartment building; trips to suburban model homes first, then cravings for them; the death of a parent; coughing of children; the sudden appearance and disappearance of a “sex freak” and more. Wolitzer has a sweet touch to convey the nuances and humor that one can. find in small moments of intrigue, like when Paulette opens a story with, “Everyone said there was a sex freak running free in the complex and I thought it was about time. Lots of these stories were published in the 60s and 70s (in The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, Ms. magazine), and are rather concrete in their plot, traditional in style. By the time Paulette and Howard hit their 60s, in ” The Great Escape ”, written in 2020, Wolitzer has moved to a more lyrical, abstract present and fragmentary, while Paulette introduces the possibility of a half-pandemic Zoom session and the timeless notion of communication with the dead.

Common themes link the other stories to those linked: absent fathers, infidelity, a trembling line between the hyper-sense of the daily ritual and the switch to madness. However, part of the book’s charm is lost in the gaps between the Paulette and Howard story. Throughout these dispatches from the American home front, the family unit is formed, broken, reattached, reflected – but still serves as an anchor for Wolitzer’s tales. Back in her apartment with her children, overwhelmed with regret at never having seen for herself this so-called maniac who had made people talk about him, Paulette finds herself on the run: “At home, I thought, at home. , as if it was the goal of my life to get there. The plot may lead a story, but for Wolitzer the daily family rituals still carry it.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Stories spanning countries and generations, by Jo Lloyd, Yoon Choi and Hilma Wolitzer
Stories spanning countries and generations, by Jo Lloyd, Yoon Choi and Hilma Wolitzer
Newsrust - US Top News
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