Books

The magical language of others / forthcoming january 6, 2020

“The Magical Language of Others is an exquisite, challenging, and stunning memoir. E. J. Koh intricately melds her personal story with a broader view of Korean history. Through these pages, you are asked to experience one family’s heartbreak, trauma, and complex love for each other. This memoir will pierce you.”  Crystal Hana Kim, If You Leave Me

“E.J. Koh’s The Magical Language of Others grapples with intergenerational loss and love between mothers and daughters across time, war, and immigration. Koh’s painful journey is bridged by her mother’s letters, which she translates, unfolding the language of mothering and tenderness. Koh remarkably and beautifully translates the language of mothers as the language of survivors.”  Don Mee Choi, Hardly War

“This memoir broke my heart. The tragedies that filled the lives of Koh’s mother and grandmothers are woven into mythic, magic tales in Koh’s hands. Only by Koh’s grace and mastery are we not crushed by the stories within The Magical Language of Others. I could read this book a thousand times over.”  Sarah Blake, Naamah

“In The Magical Language of Others, E.J. Koh writes of the boundary between anonymity and naming, between absence and abandonment, between cruelty and safety for four generations of mothers and daughters, each speaking with an occupied heart and crossing narrative borders between Korea, Japan, and America.  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

 

A Lesser Love / Winner of the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry

Buy on AmazonPleiades (LSU Press), or Barnes & Noble

“Love, war, and heaven all fall within the scope of this ambitious yet unpretentious collection of poems by Koh, the Seattle-based daughter of Korean immigrants. Unshirking, Koh’s verse is spare, evocative, and gut-moving, drawing out into interludes of clever reflections on cultural place.”  World Literature Today

“In the right light, all of these poems contain a glimmer, a conviction and a buoyancy that saves the book from a feeling of relentlessness and despair. 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. With acuity and dexterity, this poet leaps into the dangers of the present.”  D. A. Powell, author of Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys

“Koh’s poems unite realities habit opposes: love, pain; the absent, the present; the present, the past; laughter, sorrow; harsh reality, foggy myth; the living, ghosts. 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. A Lesser Love is a remarkable debut book that exposes broken love, broken bodies across the sea of migration and history.”  Don Mee Choi, author of Hardly War and The Morning News Is Exciting