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How I Became A North Korean

“Arriving five years after her exquisite short story collection debut, Drifting House, Lee’s first novel should further elevate her reputation as one of the most elegant, impeccable voices of her youthful generation.”

Library Journal (Starred Review)


"A compelling vision of both North and South Korea."

The New York Times Book Review

"Eloquently draws attention to issues of displacement, loss and identity."

The New York Times

"Lee is a superb writer." 

The Guardian

"An ode to friendship. And freedom."

New York Post

"A novel of great sincerity and moral courage."

Financial Times

"Lee writes a story, with maturity and sovereignty."

The Millions


"A promising first novel, full of fervour and compassion."

The Telegraph

"Lee inhabits her protagonists in a precise, elegant style."                   

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Lee’s story throws light on a place we know little about, in heart-wrenching, lyrical detail.”
Elle Magazine

“Lee zooms in laserlike on minute details to create moments of startling intimacy.”
O Magazine

“A masterful portrayal of the personal side of world politics and Lee’s understanding of the complexities of immigrant life.”

One of “15 Powerful, Important Books Written by Immigrant Authors

Elle Magazine

“Krys Lee’s How I Became a North Korean, out in August, is eagerly anticipated (for the long list of the Man Booker Prize 2016).”
The Guardian

“Intense and unforgettable.”

Miami Herald

One of the “Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview”
The Millions

How I Became a North Korean combines intense and graphic atmospherics with strong narrative threads of romance, friendship, and family values.”
The Christian Science Monitor

“Krys Lee joins writers like Anthony Marra, Khaled Hosseini and Elnathan John in this urgent work.”
SF Chronicle

“A vivid and harrowing read.”
Publishers Weekly

“With How I Became a North Korean, Krys Lee takes us into urgent and emotional novelistic terrain: the desperate and tenuous realms defectors are forced to inhabit after escaping North Korea. With heart and passion, Lee forges a world no other writer could create, one where the only response to longing and loss is learning to trust and hope again.”
Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author of The Orphan Master’s Son

“This is one of the best books I’ve read in a good long while. Krys Lee inhabits three wildly different individuals with precision and heart … the themes of love, family and our debt to our fellow human beings will resonate universally.”
Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Little Failure

“With empathy and insight and a deep sense of place, Krys Lee brings us to one of the most hopeless corners of the world yet gives us hope and beauty. What a brave and moving novel.”
Yiyun Li, MacArthur Fellow and PEN/Hemingway award-winning author

“I was entranced by How I Became a North Korean, and read it with increasing admiration. It’s such a penetrating work, an education, really, powered by a determination to salute the stories that have hitherto passed us by.”
Sunjeev Sahota, Booker Prize shortlisted author of The Runaways

“Terrifying, poetic and precise, How I Became a North Korean captures the crushing human cost of fleeing a dictatorship.”
Blaine Harden, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Camp 14

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