My Korean Deli
Risking It All for A Convenience StoreBook - 2010
A former senior editor of "The Paris Review" recounts his participation in a family effort to buy and run a Korean convenience store for his in-laws, a pursuit that raised issues about work and family while he shuttled between two divergent cultural arenas.
This warm and funny tale of an earnest preppy editor finding himself trapped behind the counter of a Brooklyn convenience store is about family, culture and identity in an age of discombobulation.
It starts with a gift, when Ben Ryder Howe's wife, the daughter of Korean immigrants, decides to repay her parents' self-sacrifice by buying them a store. Howe, an editor at the rarefied Paris Review, agrees to go along. Things soon become a lot more complicated. After the business struggles, Howe finds himself living in the basement of his in-laws' Staten Island home, commuting to the Paris Review offices in George Plimpton's Upper East Side townhouse by day, and heading to Brooklyn at night to slice cold cuts and peddle lottery tickets. My Korean Deli follows the store's tumultuous life span, and along the way paints the portrait of an extremely unlikely partnership between characters with shoots across society, from the Brooklyn streets to Seoul to Puritan New England. Owning the deli becomes a transformative experience for everyone involved as they struggle to salvage the original gift—and the family—while sorting out issues of values, work, and identity.
A former senior editor of The Paris Review recounts his participation in a family effort to buy and run a Korean convenience store for his in-laws, a pursuit that raised issues about work and family while he shuttled between two divergent cultural arenas. 50,000 first printing.