Jung Yun headlines Harwood-Cole Memorial Lecture

Asheville Citizen Times

When a first-time novelist writes a really good book, it does not stay a secret for long. That’s what happened to Jung Yun.

The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Los Angeles Times were among the first to praise her debut novel, “Shelter.” It’s the work she plans to discuss at Warren Wilson College at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 18 in Kittredge Community Arts Center. The event is free.

“We chose Jung Yun for her ability to speak to the struggles and joys of stepping through family and identity, honor and individuality – the kinds of experiences our students have at this time of their lives, and the constant work of all of us,” Warren Wilson College creative writing professor Gary Hawkins said.

A home invasion and unimaginable violence against a professor’s family launches the reader into “Shelter.” The attack brings a mother, father and son back together under one roof. Despite the brutal reality of recent events, family dynamics quickly take over.

“What the parents and children in this novel discover is that they can neither take shelter in their houses nor their families,” said Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Sympathizer.”

Book reviewers across the country praised Yun’s work.

The New Yorker called “Shelter” an “absorbing, suspenseful debut.” The Chicago Tribune’s Kevin Nance said the book is “beautifully crafted.” Sam Sacks of The Wall Street Journal writes, “The combination of grisly James Patterson thriller and melancholic suburban drama shouldn’t work at all. Yet Ms. Yun pulls it off.”

Yun, an assistant professor at George Washington University, is the featured speaker at Warren Wilson College’s Harwood-Cole Memorial Lecture.

“Jung’s work is a startling, engrossing look into a culture about which I know very little,” said Paula Garrett, dean of the college and vice president for academic affairs. “My impulse to choose Jung was actually focused on difference, but, in the end, her work brings me to the realization that, though cultures differ, the human condition is often the same.”

“Shelter” is Jung Yun’s debut novel. It ranks number one in BuzzFeed’s list of the “Most Buzzed-About Books of 2016.” It was longlisted for the Center for Fiction “First Novel Prize” and named among “The best books of the 2016” by Minnesota Public Radio. The novel was also a finalist for the 2016 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers Award.”