Published by Simon & Schuster on August 6, 2013
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review consideration.
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In this elegant, haunting, and highly anticipated debut novel from 5 Under 35 National Book Foundation honoree Paul Yoon, a North Korean war refugee confronts the wreckage of his past. With spare, evocative prose, Snow Hunters traces the extraordinary journey of Yohan, who defects from his country at the end of the war, leaving his friends and family behind to seek a new life in a port town on the coast of Brazil.
Though he is a stranger in a strange land, throughout the years in this town, four people slip in and out of Yohan’s life: Kiyoshi, the Japanese tailor for whom he works, and who has his own secrets and a past he does not speak of; Peixe, the groundskeeper at the town church; and two vagrant children named Santi and Bia, a boy and a girl, who spend their days in the alleyways and the streets of the town. Yohan longs to connect with these people, but to do so he must sift through his traumatic past so he might let go and move on.
In Snow Hunters, Yoon proves that love can dissolve loneliness; that hope can wipe away despair; and that a man who has lost a country can find a new home. This is a heartrending story of second chances, told with unerring elegance and absolute tenderness.
After the Korean War, North Korean refugee Yohan emigrates to Brazil for a fresh start. All that Yohan has left behind and how it was lost is revealed in brief moments throughout the story, woven between his new experiences in Brazil, where he reacclimates to life outside the POW camp.
This is a quiet book. New relationships develop gradually; kindness is offered gently. Even moments when Yohan remembers the atrocities of war have an eerily hushed tone, and that creates a powerful impact.
Snow Hunters is short, but there is a lot within its 208 pages. In the most subtle manner, author Paul Yoon manages to stir up feelings of horror, fear, relief, gratitude, love, and compassion in his readers. Simple and refined, this is the most exquisite storytelling I’ve encountered in a while.