You never know what goes on behind closed doors. Kyung Cho owns a house that he can't afford. Despite his promising career as a tenure-track professor, he and his wife, Gillian, have always lived beyond their means. Now their bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family's future. A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town's most exclusive neighbourhood. Growing up, they gave Kyung every possible advantage - expensive hobbies, private tutors - but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he decides to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves under the same roof where tensions quickly mount and old resentments rise to the surface. As Shelter veers swiftly towards its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. In the tradition of House of Sand and Fog and The Ice Storm, Shelter is a masterfully crafted first novel that asks what it means to provide for one's family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.
A gripping and involving debut novel that explores the legacy of violence, its reverberation across generations and what possibilities may endure for hope, redemption and healing.
Gripping ... Yun shows how, although shelter doesn't guarantee safety and blood doesn't guarantee love, there's something inextricable about the relationship between a child and a parent ... We may each respond in our own way, but I'll go ahead and assume that a good amount of folks, regardless of the pain they may have experienced from bad mothers and fathers, and regardless of cultural traditions, will feel the pull to help save their parents. "Shelter" is captivating in chronicling this story. New York Times The combination of grisly James Patterson thriller and melancholic suburban drama shouldn't work at all. Yet Ms. Yun pulls it off. Kyung is petulant and unlikeable, but he's also psychologically unstable. The proximity of his parents and the atmosphere of grief and panic launch him on a spiral of self-destruction that's impossible to turn away from. The novel grows darker and darker, until all its internal contradictions are eclipsed by an ending as disturbing and bereft as anything you'll read this year. Wall Street Journal A fluidly written debut novel that explores violence and its effects on one immigrant family ... [A] layered, sometimes surprising debut ... A diverse and nuanced cast of characters seeks shelter from pain and loneliness in this valiant portrayal of contemporary American life. Kirkus Reviews This work should find itself on best-of lists, among major award nominations, and in eager readers' hands everywhere. Library Journal, Starred Review In her intense debut, Yun explores the powerful legacy of familial violence and the difficulty of finding the strength and grace to forgive ... This family drama [is] rife with tension and unexpected ironies. Publishers Weekly
Jung Yun is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her work has appeared in Tin House, The Best of Tin House: Stories and The Massachusetts Review. In 2011, her short story 'The Strange Genius of American Men' received an honourable mention for the Pushcart Prize. In 2010, she was awarded an Artist's Fellowship in fiction from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.