Reviews

The Boston Globe: “Vivid and mournful…an emotionally upending story. Mun relays it all with a jarring honesty that makes the book both difficult to read and impossible to forget.”

People Magazine (Four stars, People Pick) “…a searing debut… [Mun] writes with lovely precision, lending a hallucinatory beauty to the bleak world she has created.”

Chicago Tribune – “…a gritty, riveting story about a teenage runaway who drifts through the casual nightmares of street life.”

Chicago Sun Times - “In 13 interconnected stories filled with raw and beautiful prose, [Mun] manages to instill hope and a fierce determination to survive into Joon’s brutally honest story.”

The Believer“[Mun] illuminates a side of American life one is not likely to see elsewhere… [She] does many thing extremely well, and one of those is forcing the reader to feel the bone-chilling cold of having nowhere to go.”

The Guardian (UK) “Relayed in a series of sharply delineated, matter-of-fact chapters, Joon’s desperate life and times are shot through with outrageous characters, transient loves and wisecracking dialogue. Brief, balanced and gritty, Nami Mun’s debut shows much promise.”

Chicago Public Radio:exquisite and shattering debut novel… Like Holden [Caulfied], Joon is acutely sensitive with a dead-on, deadpan wit, a longing for truth, and a terrible fear of never knowing love…she embodies life’s insistence, and our astonishing capacity for not only survival, but also transformation…Miles from Nowhere is a work of lacerating honesty and cauterizing compassion.”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer…an enthralling work of fiction that offers special insight… a remarkable debut novel… It is an intense look at life on the streets, one that gives genuine voice and heart to struggling people on society’s margins. [Joon’s] distinctive voice — deadpan, unassuming, but also oddly poetic — is one of the novel’s greatest strengths and a constant source of wonder.”

Le Monde (Fr): “Radical and admirable…”

Le Nouvel Obsavateur (Fr): “[A] book of exceptional emotional power…”

Edmonton Journal (Canada): “…impressive debut novel… Mun writes with a masterful understatedness…Miles From Nowhere is a deep, often troubling novel, but one that is intensely readable…”

The Age (Au): “[Mun] emerges as a tough-minded literary stylist, balancing poetry and grit in the creation of memorable characters…”

Chicago Magazine – “…beautifully grim, completely addictive novel…”

The Providence Journal – “…Nami Mun can write. Her style is direct, with tight brushstrokes that bring out the expressiveness in the spaces between sentences. She has the sensibility of a short-story writer, diving into the heart of a situation, while skinning off the padding around the edges. The chapters of the novel read as standalone stories that for the most part are compelling in their own right. And because of the chronological sequence, as well as the thematic and situational echoes, Miles from Nowhere also carries the full weight and impact of a novel—one with a voice as strong as the people it represents.”

Courier-Journal – “…a gritty page-turner…”

The Sun Sentinel – “Mun’s use of firm, unshowy language is just one of the sinews in her first novel…She certainly would have reaped far more publicity if she’d cast “Miles From Nowhere” as a memoir. It’s to her credit as an artist that she has written this unsettling, unsentimental novel instead.”

The Dallas Morning News – “Mun is an artist… she renders the painful realities of Joon’s life so beautifully that one must keep reading…For those who enjoy strictly lighthearted reads, this might not be enough. But those who delight in the raw power of words have a new author to add to our libraries.”

National Post (Canada): “…grittily human and utterly unsettling.”

Chicago Examiner: “Miles From Nowhere is a bildungsroman whittled down to its barest parts yet so rich with character that it unveils a world in 200 pages what Saul Bellow’s Augie March did in over 600 pages.”

The Star Ledger – “The story of how Joon survives…has the beaten-metal feel of autobiography hammered into fiction in the best way. Told in a flat, matter-of-fact tone, the book leapfrogs across Joon’s early teen years, jaggedly illuminating a life lived close to the ground, a life in which numbness is a virtue… This is a sadly familiar story. But Mun’s prose has so much casual energy and rough edge, it feels incredibly fresh.”

The Portland Mercury – “Clear-eyed first novel…smartly observed and quietly insightful…”

Glamour“…heartbreaking novel…a gritty debut…”

Time Out Chicago – “The sound and rhythm of [Mun’s] sentences enable her to convey the deadpan of a jaded teen in a terrifying world with understated poeticism…[and] sometimes her language is just plain lovely.”

Rocky Mountain News -  [Mun’s] vibrant new voice has created an engaging character with as much true grit as Huck Finn.”

The San Diego Union Tribune - “Miles from Nowhere is one of the most vivid and haunting novels I’ve read in years.”

Western Oregon Journal – “Miles From Nowhere is one of those novels you may want to buy because after reading it, you will find yourself recommending it to everyone and you may even want to read it again.”

MPR’s All Things Considered – “…a beautiful but heartrendingly tough tale…”

Irish Examiner - “…set in 1980s New York [the] edgy street dialogue paints a vivid picture of life in the Bronx for people who live on the edge of society…Joon, is vulnerable and naive and engages our sympathy.”

Austin Chronicle: “Mun’s portrait of a Korean-American teenager living on the streets is brutal yet infused with occasional tenderness and hallucinatory beauty.”

The Rumpus: “Come to this novel for the gripping story of a teenage runaway, stay for the transcendent language—Nami Mun’s debut shows not only how lives are eviscerated, but how they can be rebuilt.”

Daily Mail (UK): “Mun’s spirited characterisation of Joon, all nonchalant toughness and heart-breaking vulnerability, gives the novel a gritty hopefulness.”

Booklist (Starred Review) - “[E]xplosive first novel…Mun’s gritty and empathic coming-of-age tale confronts the madness that lurks on the periphery of lust and love, the poison of racism, the suffering of the unloved, and the fierce survival instincts, adaptability, and radiance of young people. There is nothing simplistic or sensationalized here as Mun, a writer of gravitas, portrays the dispossessed and the cast-out, reminding us how quickly things can go disastrously wrong, how tough it is to live outside the margins.”

Library Journal (Starred Review) – “The story of Joon’s descent into heroin addiction and prostitution on the streets of New York is grim but absolutely authentic…A haunting debut…”

Kirkus Review“Austere, but with its own bleak beauty.”

Bookforum - “Befitting the confessions of its opiate-eating narrator, Nami Mun’s first novel has a junkie’s jumbled sense of chronology… but the narrative moves back and forth in time so fluidly that it seems to take place, as the title suggests, in a province all its own.

Paste Magazine - “With a gift for momentum, Mun… weaves a narration both dense and floating.”

The Asian Reporter - “Miles from Nowhere is gritty and unflinching, and Mun’s writing is unsentimental yet poetic and precise. She is restrained in her description of the desperation and violence Joon encounters, but it is precisely the spareness of her prose that makes Joon’s story so heartbreaking… Despite its bleak and dark subject, Miles from Nowhere shines with a generous humanity. Nami Mun is a refreshing new voice in Asian-American literature.”

Express Milwaukee – “Youth does not stop Joon from speaking in a raw, jarring voice that makes you ache for her…”

Santa Fe New Mexican“Uncompromising from start to finish, Miles from Nowhere is a forceful debut that sets Mun herself apart from other authors as a fearless writer.”

Venus Zine – “A younger writer might have focused on the more ‘shocking’ aspects of Joon’s lifestyle, but Mun… underplays the inevitable scenes of violence and exploitation, writing more to illuminate her characters’ essential humanity than to incite a prurient response.”

Author Magazine – “Nami Mun accurately depicts the horrors and dangers of the street life, but without ever trying to manipulate the reader’s emotions. The writing is spare and clean and never sentimental, but with a shimmer that is occasionally electrifying. Joon-Mee is a heroine you will care about. She is as clear and straightforward as the writing, but with a heart of sweetness and poetry and hope.”

The Battalion - “Beautifully written in a dark prose style reminiscent of Southern Goth, readers trudge through a five-year seemingly hopeless journey with a young Asian girl, wanting, more than their own dreams perhaps that hers come true.”

The University Daily Kansan – “The characters are rough around the edges, but soften into compassionate friends and allies on the gritty streets. Although tough to take at times, readers will understand Joon’s pain and interpret it as their own, making Miles From Nowhere a simple attempt to spell out every individual’s endless pursuit of happiness.”

Korean American Journal – “…[a] heartwrenching debut novel…Joon’s tumultuous journey is told first hand as her encounters with homelessness, physical abuse, drug addiction, fleeing friends, dead-end jobs, and petty crimes keep readers at the edge of their seats waiting to find out how it will all end.”

Publisher’s Weekly – “[Miles from Nowhere] is a 1980s urban odyssey…Joon’s voice, purged of self-pity, sounds clear and strong on every page. Individual scenes, including Joon’s first john, her interview with an antagonistic employment counselor and her climactic encounter with a good-hearted former neighbor, are wonderfully written.”

The Bookseller – “[Miles from Nowhere] is an absorbing read and the potentially bleak subject matter is leavened with tenderness and humour at unexpected moments.”

Bookworm’s Dinner - “Memorable and moving with remarkable sensitivity, this writer has a distinct talent that has made her book one of my top ten for 2008… Highly recommended.”

Advance Praise

Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City – “Stunning. The visceral power of Nami Mun’s Miles from Nowhere sneaks up on you—whatever heartache or humor you find within these pages is embodied in her shimmering prose, distilled to the bone. I found myself reading passages out loud to friends, passages I thought were hallucinatory and funny, only to find myself choking back real tears.”

Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl – “A starkly beautiful book, shot through with grace and lit by an off-hand street poetry. Nami Mun takes a cast of junkies and runaways and brings them fiercely and frankly to life. It’s a measure of the artistry of the work that even in their grimmest, darkest moments, rather than being repelled by these characters, we want to stay beside them, as if to care for them, or at least to bear witness to their lives.”

Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black“In this novel set in the 1980s, homeless teen Joon leaves her troubled family to suffer the scams, violence, and sudden friendships of street life in New York City. Suspenseful, funny, painful, and poetic, Nami Mun’s debut shows a talent for close observation and a prose which fills the grit of street life with flashes of gold.”

Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh – “Nami Mun is easily one of the most important new talents in American fiction. The first time I read her work, I thought two things: one, that I knew these characters, people I’d always seen but had never heard from, stories I always knew were there but that until now hadn’t been told. And two: that I was in the presence of one of our next great writers. American fiction is a little larger in a way that really matters, now that she’s here.”

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