This Part Is Silent: A Life Between Cultures (Paperback)

This Part Is Silent: A Life Between Cultures By SJ Kim Cover Image
By SJ Kim
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A searing essay collection that explores displacement and loss, creativity and change, institutional power and progress.

Born in Korea, raised in the American South, and trying her best to survive British academia, SJ Kim probes her experiences as a writer, a scholar, and a daughter to confront the silences she finds in the world. With curiosity and sensitivity, she writes letters to the institutions that simultaneously support and fail her, intimate accounts of immigration, and interrogations of rising anti-Black and anti-Asian racism. She considers the silences between generations—especially within the Asian diaspora in the West—as she finds her way back to her own family during the pandemic lockdown.

Embracing the possibilities and impossibilities of language, Kim rejoices in the similes of Korean, her mother tongue, and draws inspiration from K-dramas and writers across cultures who sustain her. As borders close in and nations enter lockdown, the journey that Kim traces is fraught—and at once illuminates that the act of remaining present has its own power, allowing boundless hope.

About the Author

SJ Kim was born in Korea and raised in the American South. She resides in the UK and teaches creative writing at the University of Warwick.

Praise For…

Rather than drawing readers into the discrete and measured intimacy of many memoirs, Kim leans into the inaccessibility of one’s full experience as interpreted by another. The author’s quiet absences sharpen the edges of her inspection of entrenched, implied superiority and easy erasure in discussions of race and in the expectations of immigrants…Kim materializes as a teacher who takes her role seriously as she calls herself and her readers to action.
— Kirkus (starred review)

Throughout, Kim’s astute observations reveal the varied meanings of silence, whether she’s discussing her struggle to connect with her parents or holding her tongue after a white interlocutor’s racially insensitive comment. Probing and deeply felt, this entrances.
— Publishers Weekly

SJ Kim’s pellucid lyricism hides a razorblade: I haven’t read a more beautiful, more raging and anguished account of racism and female erasure. It’s a book about finding a toehold in a world that would rather you slipped and fell. It's a book about survival and unbelonging. It is necessary reading.
— Neel Mukherjee, author of The Lives of Others

I stopped reading This Part Is Silent at first, because I was frightened: I recognized myself to have become what spiritual workers call ‘open.’ Should any combination of words destabilize me like this? Had I been entered by a spirit? Little by little, words became sculptured pieces. We are let into a Korean American family operating in an English environment. The craziness that this kind of life brings to other perceptions and self-perception is beautifully demonstrated. The words no longer hit: they are music. No alien spirit, the spirit is no stranger. It is us.

— Erna Brodber, author of Louisiana

SJ Kim so aptly captures the constant feelings of displacement, the way displacement becomes air to breathe in and out, air that can suffocate. Kim’s speaker is displaced again and again, and the fragmented language and structure of this book beautifully reflects that displacement. This Part Is Silent is lyrical, heartrending, and important.

— Victoria Chang, author of Obit

This Part Is Silent is a testament—a wounded work that explores academic precarity, microaggressions, and the works of Yusef Komunyakaa and Kim Hyesoon, written by a young Korean American writer trying to survive in Manchester’s Chinatown, higher education, and contemporary racial discourse. Kim’s vulnerable text takes autofiction in a turn that’s at once multicultural, metatextual, and multilingual.

— Ken Chen, author of Juvenilia

Product Details
ISBN: 9781324064763
ISBN-10: 1324064765
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: April 16th, 2024
Pages: 192
Language: English