E. J. Koh

E. J. Koh is the author of The Magical Language of Others, a Washington State Book Award Winner, Pacific Northwest Book Award Winner, Association of Asian American Studies Book Award Winner, and PEN Open Book Award Longlist. Koh is also the author of the poetry collection A Lesser Love, a Pleiades Editors Prize for Poetry Winner and the co-translator of Yi Won’s poetry collection The World’s Lightest Motorcycle. Koh’s poems, stories, and translations have appeared in AGNI, The Atlantic, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetry, Slate, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. Koh is a writer for the Pachinko TV series and consultant for the Little America TV series. She lives in Seattle, Washington.


  • Koh’s book is a tremendous gift. . . . A wonder.

    —The San Francisco Chronicle

  • A moving portrait of abandonment, forgiveness, and the strength of maternal love.


  • Poignant…. Koh writes beautifully of the sacrifices made for love and of the intergenerational tensions between a mother and daughter.

    —Oprah Daily

  • Stunning.

    —Alexander Chee, author of How To Write An Autobiographical Novel

  • A beautifully crafted saga.

    —Nicole Chung, author of All You Can Ever Know

  • Indisputably brilliant.

    —Jeannie Vanasco, author of Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl

  • Exquisite. . . . This memoir will pierce you.

    —Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me

  • Koh remarkably and beautifully translates the language of mothers as the language of survivors.

    —Don Mee Choi, author of DMZ Colony

  • I could read this book a thousand times over.

    —Sarah Blake, author of Naamah

  • A lyrical and profound personal excavation.

    —Buzzfeed, Most Anticipated Book of the Year

  • Exquisite.

    —Literary Hub

  • Powerful. . . . Koh’s success as a poet shines through in the beauty and delicacy of her prose.

    —Book Riot

  • A cinematic and multigenerational saga.

    —The Stranger

  • Magnificent. . . . This is a memoir that needs to be read more than once.

    —International Examiner

  • A haunting, gorgeous narrative that is lonely but lushly told. . . . Brilliant.

    —The Star Tribune

  • A beautiful, scorching memoir.

    —Chicago Review of Books

  • Weaving the handwritten Korean letters, the English translations and longer chapters recounting her own story intertwined with those of the women who came before her, Koh (who is now based in Seattle) renders a uniquely beautiful work of literature.

    —The Seattle Times

  • Powerful…. [Koh] fearlessly grapples with forgiveness, reconciliation, legacy and intergenerational trauma.


  • A masterpiece, a love letter to mothers and daughters everywhere.

    —Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

  • A coming-of-age story, a family story, and a meditation on language and translation, with an emotional range to match.

    —Caitlin Horrocks, author of The Vexations

  • Give yourself over to her narrative territory and the resetting of the borders of lineage, language, and lives lost.

    —Shawn Wong, author of American Knees

  • It’s really beautiful. . . . A compassionate, vulnerable, sad, and loving book about mother-daughter relationships. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read it.

    —Amanda Toronto, WORD Bookstore, as heard on Minneapolis Public Radio

  • Fascinating.

    —Book Riot