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Original Essays | September 18, 2014 1 comment
On a hot July evening years ago, my Toyota Tercel overheated on a flat stretch of highway north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A steam geyser shot up from... Continue »
Nami MunDescribe your latest project.
Miles from Nowhere is about Joon, a young Korean girl who navigates homelessness, physical abuse, and drug addiction during her years as a runaway in 1980s New York. We follow her for five years (from age 13 to 18) as she tries to eke out a life for herself a life that doesn't involve shelters, violence, prostitution, petty crimes, and addiction. This book isn't necessarily "pleasant" to read, I guess, but I can say that it's emotionally honest, and, I hope, unflinching. I wanted to try and depict life as it is really lived by runaways, throwaways, sex workers, and addicts, and in no way did I want to beautify anything for fear of offending. But, of course, life on the streets isn't all about brutality and pain. There are funny, loving moments, too, which hopefully my readers whether they be booksellers, soccer moms, priests or prison guards will connect with.
I could see myself dating a 60-40 combination of Frederic Henry (from A Farewell to Arms) and his friend, the high-spirited Rinaldi. I think that means I'm attracted to stoic, strong, reserved manly-men who also possess a certain joie de vivre and who reside in countries like Italy during times of war, violence, and high infant mortality rates.
I'd also like to have a fling with Rodolphe Boulanger from Madame Bovary, but only to teach him a lesson or two on how not to treat women.
If I were gay, I'd definitely date Midori from Murakami's Norwegian Wood.
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
Now, the most interesting job I've ever had was when I worked as a criminal defense investigator.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke
What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin?
Name the best television series of all time.
Now it's The Wire, hands down. Because it's actually an episodic novel in script form. Because the writers for that show remained loyal to their characters. Because the show didn't spoonfeed information. Because it showed how society fails children without being preachy. Because of the actors. And because of Omar.
Aside from other writers, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration and talk a little about their work.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Books of Poetry for Fiction Lovers
Shadow Wars by D. Nurkse
Jimmy and Rita by Kim Addonizio
Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
The Vigil by C. K. Williams
Bad With Faces by Sean Norton
Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke
Surviving Childhood (But Just Barely)
The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz
Childhood and other Neighborhoods by Stuart Dybek
The Wanderers by Richard Price
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
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Nami Mun was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up there and in the Bronx, New York. She has worked as a door-to-door Avon Lady, a dance hostess, a street vendor, a photojournalist, a bartender, and a criminal investigator. A graduate of University of California at Berkeley, she received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she garnered a Hopwood Award for fiction and the Farrar Prize. She has received a Pushcart Prize, as well as scholarships and residencies from the Corporation of Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Her stories have been published in the 2007 Pushcart Prize anthology, The Iowa Review, Tin House, Evergreen Review, Witness, and other journals.