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The Magical Language of Others is a fearless and poetic mind grappling with forgiveness, reconciliation, legacy, and intergenerational trauma–conjuring an epic saga and love story between mothers and daughters spanning four generations.
“E. J. Koh intricately melds her personal story with a broader view of Korean history. This memoir will pierce you.” Crystal Hana Kim, If You Leave Me
“E. J. Koh remarkably and beautifully translates the language of mothers as the language of survivors.” Don Mee Choi, Hardly War
“A beautifully crafted saga, a testament to how the most complicated, elusive truths can shape us.” Nicole Chung, All You Can Ever Know
“As a reader, you give yourself over to her narrative territory and the resetting of the borders of lineage, language, and lives lost.” Shawn Wong, Homebase and American Knees
“Indisputably brilliant. I read The Magical Language of Others in a single sitting—all the while never wanting it to end.” Jeannie Vanasco, Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl
“A coming-of-age story, a family story, and a meditation on language and translation, with an emotional range to match.” Caitlin Horrocks, The Vexations
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In A Lesser Love readers will find poems composed of “Ingredients for Memories that Can Be Used as Explosives” and poems composed of chemistry equations that convert light into “reasonable dioxide” and then further transmogrify the formula into a complex understanding of the parent-child relationship. A book of intimate poems that invite readers into a private world, that geography grows wider and more interconnected with each passing page.
“Unshirking, Koh’s verse is spare, evocative, and gut-moving, drawing out into interludes of clever reflections on cultural place.” World Literature Today
“Every new poem begins with a cooing excitement, a chance to make things right. Every birth is an opportunity to take revenge for what came before, and a chance to improve those who wronged us. Koh reminds us that the choice is ours to make, every single time.” The Seattle Review of Books
“Love, war and recovered testimony from Korea’s unhealed border inform the formal and imaginative boundaries within E. J. Koh’s panoptic poems. Koh imagines the details of her own CIA file, revises the Pledge of Allegiance, and translates Beyoncé.” D. A. Powell, author of Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys
“Koh, whose vision fuses American and Korean culture determinedly but nonchalantly, whose distinctive voice can startle as it soothes, and whose invention is a book that delights, disrupts, razes, edifies, and refuses ever to be just one thing. A Lesser Love is first-rate, intelligent, and pure gold—a triumph.” Timothy Donnelly, author of The Cloud Corporation
“E. J. Koh’s poetry is born from the pain of immigration, the pain of immigrant parents—their relentless labor for survival, their neglected children. Koh is also an inheritor of Korea’s violent history, so her language is crevassed and laced with historical anger, loss, and violence. ” Don Mee Choi, author of Hardly War and The Morning News Is Exciting