April 9, 2023

Everything Asian
Author: Sung J. Woo
July 20, 2010, $14.99
St. Martin’s Press
Thomas Dunne Trade Paperback

Imagine that a month has passed since your flight from Korea has landed in Newark Airport. Your mother and sister are miserable. You are seeing your dad for the first time in five years, and you think that he’s a loser. Welcome to the world of David Kim. For the first time in paperback, Everything Asian by Sung J. Woo weaves together two compelling stories: a drama/comedy of the Kim family, reunited for the first time in America, and the tale of Peddlers Town, a depressed, second-class mall where the Kims have their store.

Set in early-1980’s suburban New Jersey, Everything Asian is narrated by 12year-old David Kim, who details the family’s first year in the U.S. together with equal amounts of humor and pathos. David can’t speak English, but that doesn’t stop him from working at East Meets West, his father’s gift shop. Between dealing with competition at the mall and trying to make new friends, celebrating a birthday at a bowling alley and cooking a turkey on Thanksgiving, the Kims try to understand what it means to be a family in their new country.

While David’s observations take center stage, they alternate with chapters told from different perspectives, including the other members of the Kim clan and the various merchants in the mall. These multiple points of view flesh out the picture of life at Peddlers Town as well as show the Kims through outsider’s eyes, offering a broadened understanding of the family.

Sung J. Woo’s short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times,

McSweeney’s, and KoreAmfournal. His short film was an audience choice screening of the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival 2008. A graduate of Cornell University with an MFA from New York University, he lives in Washington, New Jersey. Visit his Web site at wwww.sungjwoo.com.

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