Krys Lee

Saturday, March 24, 6 pm | 60 RMB – purchase link


In Kry Lee’s debut novel, How I Became a North Korean, Yongju is an accomplished student from one of North Korea’s most prominent families. Jangmi, on the other hand, has had to fend for herself since childhood, most recently by smuggling goods across the border. Then there is Danny, a Chinese-American teenager whose quirks and precocious intelligence have long made him an outcast in his California high school. These three disparate lives converge when they flee their homes, finding themselves in a small Chinese town just across the river from North Korea. As they fight to survive in a place where danger seems to close in on all sides, in the form of government informants, husbands, thieves, abductors, and even missionaries, they come to form a kind of adoptive family. The novel – a finalist for the 2016 Centre for Fiction First Novel Prize and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal – transports the reader to one of the least-known and most threatening environments in the world, and explores how humanity persists even in the most desperate circumstances. Reviewing the book in The Guardian, Barbara Demick said, “Krys Lee is a superb writer… Lee has worked with North Korean refugees and she knows intimately their terror when trying to survive in a world where it is impossible to distinguish between friend and foe.”

Krys Lee is the author of the short story collection Drifting House and the recent debut novel How I Became a North Korean, both published by Viking, Penguin Random House. She is a recipient of the Rome Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, the Honor Title in Adult Fiction Literature from the Asian/Pacific American Libraries Association, and finalist for Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the BBC International Story Prize. Her fiction, journalism, and literary translations have appeared in GrantaThe Kenyon ReviewNarrativeSan Francisco ChronicleCorriere della Sera, and The Guardian, among others. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Yonsei University, Underwood International College, in South Korea.

  • Tickets are available at The Bookworm and online via Yoopay.