Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review: THE SNOW HUNTERS by Paul Yoon

The Snow Hunters, by Paul Yoon. Published 2013 by Simon & Schuster.

Talk about a quiet novel. The Snow Hunters, Paul Yoon's first novel, takes place alternately in Brazil and Korea, before during and after the Korean War, and is about as introverted a novel as they come. He tells a rich story atmosphere of loss and confusion, memory and the quiet discipline of forging a new life, almost entirely in exposition with very little dialogue.

Yohan is a refugee from the war who comes to Brazil to make that new life after the war has destroyed everything else. He takes up residence with Kiyoshi, a Japanese tailor, because as a refugee Yohan learned a little about mending clothes. Kiyoshi lives in his shop, which is frequented by people of all walks of life, and through the shop Yohan gradually integrates into society. He learns to speak Portuguese, learns the streets and alleyways and byways of his new city. And he befriends two children, a brother and a sister.

The Snow Hunters is a short novel that takes a long time to read as you must linger over the sentences, the slow rolling cadences and the poetry that Yoon creates on the page. The book is moody and introspective, whole lives compressed into its pages. The Snow Hunters is a book for people who liked Tinkers and enjoy style-driven narrative without a driving plot. No particular knowledge of the Korean War is necessary in my opinion; Yohan's war memories and experiences strike me as universal. It's a lovely little book.


FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.


Mystica said...

Brazil and Korea seem such worlds apart that I can imagine how difficult the assimilation would be. Must be an interesting read.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I'm glad you liked this one. it was a little too quiet, even for my taste, but I loved how the book felt both impossibly exotic and completely universal all at once.

bermudaonion said...

Hm, I would have to be in the right mood for this book. I need plot.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Maybe some day -- I do have a copy, but not right now. Thanks for sharing Marie.