November 14, 2022 7:53 AM EST

American imperialism, generational trauma, and coming-of-age collide in Joseph Han’s dazzling debut novel Nuclear Family, which traverses multiple generations and continents to tell the story of the Chos, a Korean American family living in Hawaii. When Jacob Cho decides to move to South Korea to teach English, his parents are delighted that he’ll have a chance to connect with his roots. What they didn’t bargain for, however, is Jacob’s possession by the spirit of his late grandfather, whose tragic death—and unfinished business in North Korea—leads his grandson to attempt to cross the Korean demilitarized zone, setting off a series of events that will force the Chos to finally confront family secrets that have haunted them for decades. —Cady Lang

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