The Liberators

E. J. Koh

Daejeon, South Korea. 1980. At twenty-four, Insuk falls in love with her college classmate, Sungho, and with her father’s blessing, they marry. But then, as the military dictatorship, martial law, and nationwide protests bring the country precariously to the edge, Insuk’s father disappears.

In the wake of his disappearance, Insuk flees to California with Sungho, their son Henry, and Sungho’s overbearing mother. Adrift in a new country, Insuk grieves the loss of her past and divided homeland, only to find herself drawn into an illicit affair that sets into motion dramatic events that will echo for generations to come.

Spanning two continents and four generations, E. J. Koh’s debut novel exquisitely captures two Korean families forever changed by fateful decisions made in love and war. Extraordinarily beautiful and deeply moving, The Liberators is an elegantly wrought family saga of memory, trauma, and empathy, and a stunning testament to the consequences and fortunes of inheritance.

The Magical Language of Others

E. J. Koh

The Magical Language of Others is a powerful and aching love story in letters, from mother to daughter. After living in America for over a decade, Eun Ji Koh’s parents return to South Korea for work, leaving fifteen-year-old Eun Ji and her brother behind in California. Overnight, Eun Ji finds herself abandoned and adrift in a world made strange by her mother’s absence. Her mother writes letters in Korean over the years seeking forgiveness and love—letters Eun Ji cannot fully understand until she finds them years later hidden in a box.

As Eun Ji translates the letters, she looks to history—her grandmother Jun’s years as a lovesick wife in Daejeon, the loss and destruction her grandmother Kumiko witnessed during the Jeju Island Massacre—and to poetry, as well as her own lived experience to answer questions inside all of us. Where do the stories of our mothers and grandmothers end and ours begin? How do we find words—in Korean, Japanese, English, or any language—to articulate the profound ways that distance can shape love?

The Magical Language of Others weaves a profound tale of hard-won selfhood and our deep bonds to family, place, and language, introducing—in Eun Ji Koh—a singular, incandescent voice.