“At its heart, Folklorn is a haunting and lyrical novel about mythology, science, generational trauma, and identity, but it’s also much more. I took my time reading this since I wanted to really stop and think about the questions it raised. A truly memorable, genre-bending reading experience!”
— Grace Rajendran, University Book Store, Seattle, WA
A New York Times Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novel of 2021 An NPR Best Book of 2021
A genre-defying, continents-spanning saga of Korean myth, scientific discovery, and the abiding love that binds even the most broken of families.
Elsa Park is a particle physicist at the top of her game, stationed at a neutrino observatory in the Antarctic, confident she's put enough distance between her ambitions and the family ghosts she's run from all her life. But it isn't long before her childhood imaginary friend—an achingly familiar, spectral woman in the snow—comes to claim her at last.
Years ago, Elsa's now-catatonic mother had warned her that the women of their line were doomed to repeat the narrative lives of their ancestors from Korean myth and legend. But beyond these ghosts, Elsa also faces a more earthly fate: the mental illness and generational trauma that run in her immigrant family, a sickness no less ravenous than the ancestral curse hunting her.
When her mother breaks her decade-long silence and tragedy strikes, Elsa must return to her childhood home in California. There, among family wrestling with their own demons, she unravels the secrets hidden in the handwritten pages of her mother’s dark stories: of women’s desire and fury; of magic suppressed, stolen, or punished; of the hunger for vengeance.
From Sparks Fellow, Tin House alumna, and Harvard graduate Angela Mi Young Hur, Folklorn is a wondrous and necessary exploration of the myths we inherit and those we fashion for ourselves.
About the Author
Angela Mi Young Hur received a B.A. in English from Harvard and an MFA in Creative Writing from Notre Dame, where she won the Sparks Fellowship and the Sparks Prize, a post-graduate fellowship. Her debut The Queens of K-Town was published by MacAdam/Cage in 2007. Folklorn was chosen by Kelly Link for a Tin House novel mentorship through the Tin House Summer Workshop, where Hur also studied with Alexander Chee and Mat Johnson, and later with Peter Ho Davies at the Napa Valley Writers Conference.
"An elegant punch to the face....beautiful and hard and hungry, full of sharp, painful observations, slicing clichés open like prickly pears and devouring their hearts." —New York Times
"[A] beautiful meditation on childhood trauma as well as an exploration into Korean heritage... a gorgeous journey into the intersection of science and myth and how our past traumas shape us – but how they need not define us." – NPR "Best Books of 2021"
“Haunting and spiritual and touching, and so unique. This is absolutely one to be cherished.” —“Tor.com 30 Most Anticipated Books of 2021”
“A complex meditation on intergenerational trauma….The honest look at prickly Elsa’s internalized racism is ambitious but often brutal in its unflinching execution….This thought-provoking work will appeal to SFF fans who like their talk of particle physics side by side with fox spirits and fairy tales.” —Publishers Weekly
"Genre-defying and emotionally unsettling, it is a book that refuses to stay in whatever category the reader wants to put it.... Well worth the effort." —Locus
"Ghost story, family saga, parable, feminist reimagined myth: Angela Mi Young Hur’s hugely ambitious Folklorn is a spellbinding shape-shifter of a novel that tackles questions of race, culture, and history head-on, exploring the blurry boundaries between past and present, fact and fantasy, and personal and cultural—or cosmic." —Celeste Ng, bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere
"Vivid and delectable. Angela Mi Young Hur is equally at home working in the fertile territories of myth and the fantastic as in the nuanced portrayal of a contemporary, complex family. I loved this." – Kelly Link, Pulitzer Prize finalist and National bestselling author of Get in Trouble
“Dark, difficult, and riveting—Folklorn gave me endless trouble, and I appreciate it.” —R. F. Kuang, Astounding Award-winning author of The Poppy War
“In Folklorn, Angela Mi Young Hur weaves the fantastic into the realism of a compelling family saga, creating a heartfelt novel as original as it is irresistible. Pick this up if you’re ready to not put it down.” —Mat Johnson, author of Pym and Loving Day
“Spectacular. . . .Hur writes with virtuosity and power, weaving together the ribbons of the mythic with the complex tapestry of family and history to create a gorgeous, moving whole.” —Kat Howard, author of An Unkindness of Magicians
“Folklorn is a work of capacious, original imagination: part supernatural mystery, part immigrant family story. Hur’s mixing and melding of genres is an inventive, elegant means of illuminating the dualities of diasporic experience, as well as a testament to the essential role of stories in understanding our identities.” —Peter Ho Davies, author of The Fortunes and A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself
"With enviable ambition and swagger, Folklorn tosses us from one shimmering setting to another: Antarctic research station, Korean spa, Scandinavian island, hipster neighborhood in Stockholm, auto body shop in Southern California. Exploring our genetic and traumatic inheritances, Angela Hur weaves gorgeous Korean fables through a woman’s messy, international search for redemption and connection. This novel is brash, defiant and ultimately full of yearning." —Chia-Chia Lin, author of The Unpassing