87 pages 2 hours read

Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2021

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Key Figures

Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner is a writer and musical artist best known for her work as the lead singer and songwriter of the band Japanese Breakfast. She was born in Seoul to a Korean mother, Chongmi, and an American father, whose name is withheld in this work (and from whom Zauner is estranged at the time of its writing). She was raised outside of Eugene, Oregon, and got her start as a musician as a teenager playing shows at the WOW Hall and McDonald Theatre in Eugene, often opening for acts that she looked up to.

The memoir details Zauner’s relationship with her mother and her mother’s death due to cancer, and concludes with the recording, release, and successful reception of Psychopomp, Japanese Breakfast’s first album. She had a difficult relationship with her mother, who was a perfectionist and vocal critic of Zauner; during her teenage years, the difficulties worsened and even came to violence as her mother disapproved of her music career. After finishing college and living in Philadelphia, Zauner reconnects with her mother, particularly through their shared love of Korean food.

Dealing with her mother’s illness and death has a profound effect on Zauner; she sees it as an ironic loss in which she was just getting to know and understand her mother before losing her.