Snow Hunters

A Novel

LIST PRICE $10.99

About The Book

Winner of the Young Lions Fiction Award, Snow Hunters is “a subtle, elegant, poignant read” (Oprah.com), featuring a Korean War refugee who emigrates to Brazil to become a tailor’s apprentice and confronts the wreckage of his past.

“Exquisitely enigmatic…a small but radiant star in the current literary firmament” (The Dallas Morning News), Snow Hunters traces the extraordinary journey of Yohan, a twenty-five-year-old North Korean POW refugee who defects from his country at the end of the Korean War, leaving his friends and family behind to seek a new life in a port town on the coast of Brazil.

Though he is a stranger in a strange land, throughout the years in this town, four people slip in and out of Yohan’s life: Kiyoshi, the Japanese tailor for whom he works, and who has his own secrets and a past he does not speak of; Peixe, the groundskeeper at the town church; and two vagrant children named Santi and Bia, a boy and a girl, who spend their days in the alleyways and the streets of the town. Yohan longs to connect with these people, but to do so he must sift through the wreckage of his traumatic past so he might let go and move on.

In Snow Hunters, “quotidian-surreal craft-master” (New York magazine) Paul Yoon proves love can dissolve loneliness; that hope can wipe away despair; and that a man who lost a country can find a new home. “The brief, simple sentences that form this elegant tone poem of a novel…have the effect of making you slow down to read them—which is a fitting way to experience the story of a man unmoored by memory and time” (Entertainment Weekly). This is a heartrending story of second chances, told with unerring elegance and absolute tenderness.

About The Author

Photograph by Peter Yoon

Paul Yoon was born in New York City. His first book, Once the Shore, was selected as a New York Times Notable Book, a Best Debut of the Year by National Public Radio and won a 5 under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation. His novel, Snow Hunters, won the 2014 Young Lions Fiction Award. He is a former fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and his stories have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, VQR, the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, and The Best American Short Stories. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is currently a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard University along with his wife, the writer Laura van den Berg.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 2013)
  • Length: 208 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476714837

Raves and Reviews

“[A] quotidian-surreal craft-master.”

– New York Magazine

“The brief, simple sentences that form this elegant tone poem of a novel, called Snow Hunters, have the effect of making you slow down to read them.”

– Entertainment Weekly

“Yoon’s debut novel began as a 500-page draft pared down to about 200 pages that reveal the same shimmering, evocative spareness of his 2009 collection, Once the Shore. The result is that rare, precious gem, with every remaining word to be cherished for the many discarded to achieve perfection. One of this year’s best reads.”

– Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Expectations were high for [Yoon’s] debut novel—and with Snows Hunters, he has fulfilled them… An introspective and moving novel to savor.”

– Bookpage

“The collection Once the Shore showcased Yoon’s piercing powers of story and language; this novel continues his stunning trajectory with prose so pristine it feels supernatural.”

– Publishers Weekly

“Yoon’s delicate prose creates a haunting perspective.”

– Booklist

“Ordinary moments take on a graceful quality that might have gone unnoticed in less skilled hands…A minimalist, well-crafted story.”

– Kirkus

“At first glance Paul Yoon appears to be the perfect miniaturist, but behind every subtle gesture this novel shimmers with a deep and complex history. Snow Hunters is a beautiful and moving meditation on a solitary life."

– Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto

“Paul Yoon's sentences are startlingly beautiful. Lucid and clean and resonant, they build, in Snow Hunters, to form a novel that is deceptively light and extraordinarily tender."

– Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia and The Monsters of Templeton

"Snow Hunters reads like a dream. In this quiet, evocative rendering, we espy lives muted by war, altered by loss and displacement, and ultimately mended by the salvaged threads of memories and love. Paul Yoon’s writing intimates the emergence of a master stylist, each sentence a jewel to be admired."

– Vaddey Ratner, author of In the Shadow of the Banyan

“Paul Yoon offers a profound look at the consequences of war, and what it means to begin a new life in the wake of its devastations...Brief in length, Snow Hunters is truly expansive in its scope, and written in language as clear and bracing as snowmelt.”

– Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Ms. Hempel Chronicles

“Paul Yoon proves himself well suited to the short form…the pleasures of Snow Hunters are many, and they begin with Yoon’s prose, at once lyrical and precise…[the novel] is all the more powerful for its brevity.”

– Tatjana Soli, New York Times Book Review

“Pretty perfect …Yoon not only illustrates intimacy on the page, but creates it between the reader and Yohan. By the end of Yoon's relatively brief novel, Yohan becomes real — a character you won't soon forget.”

– The Atlantic Wire

“A poetic portrait of a man’s life in loneliness…Yoon’s short stories were praised for their spare and beautiful prose, and Snow Hunters, too, shares that. Yoon often calls to mind Hemingway’s directness.”

– Boston Globe

“Exquisitely enigmatic…a small but radiant star in the current literary firmament.”

– Dallas Morning News

“‘Luminous’ is a word that gets overused in book reviews, but it’s sublimely apt for Paul Yoon’s new novel, Snow Hunters…Yoon’s original manuscript was over 500 pages, which may explain why every page here feels compressed as a diamond. This is the kind of subtle, meditative book that could easily fade to a whisper of an ending, but instead something quite real happens. That it happens in a boat, just as lights begin to appear on shore, makes it all the more perfect.”

– Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Yoon’s gift as a writer is to reveal the meaning in the smallest moments…A subtle, elegant, poignant read.”

“A trim, fable-like book that proves to have a surprising amount of heft…Yoon is a lyrical writer, weaving taut and simple sentences with expanded and rhythmic ones. Every line is engineered to matter in a book like this one…Yoon is expert at zooming in on the transformative moment and pulling back to capture the flow of history.”

– Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“Of the many words that could describe Snow Hunters—poetic, observant, poignant, compassionate, refined, elegiac, limpid—I’ll choose ‘dreamlike’.”

– Asian Review of Books

“Paul Yoon proves himself well suited to the short form…the pleasures of Snow Hunters are many, and they begin with Yoon’s prose, at once lyrical and precise…[the novel] is all the more powerful for its brevity.”

– Tatjana Soli, New York Times Book Review

“Writing about war and its ramifications can be tricky, but Yoon’s writing is graceful, understated, at times elegiac, but graphic in the right places.”

– St Louis Post-Dispatch

“The collection Once the Shore showcased Yoon’s piercing powers of story and language; this novel continues his stunning trajectory with prose so pristine it feels supernatural.”

– Publishers Weekly

“Paul Yoon’s slender novel Snow Hunters is exquisitely written—the kind of book that makes you think, this is the work of a writer’s writer.”

– Roxanne Gay, The Nation

“Spotlight: There are a lot of big books coming out this fall. Enormous books. So here at the end of summer, savor this slim gift.”

– The Tennessean

“A quiet exploration of love and starting over, Yoon's novel is a brilliant story of a young man who leaves his native Korea for Brazil in the aftermath of the Korean War.”

– The San Francisco Chronicle

“Minimalism becomes the story's driving, masterful force. Every word is purposeful, and there is an air of meditation in Yoon's modest sentences. While the first draft was over five hundred pages, the final is a mere 208: it's evident that only the best, most important, prose remained…Though the book is about the consequences of war, the ideas at work in Snow Hunters brilliantly translate to the broader experience of life.”

– NPR.org

“Masterful storytelling. It is a mark of [Yoon’s] expertise that the story essentially writes itself. The prose is elegant and effortless — a feat even more impressive given the size and scope of Yoon’s original draft — making the story feel seamless, even while touching on many of the vicissitudes inherent in life…Most of all, Yoon presents a moving portrait of one man encountering life’s paradoxes, absurdities, and tender, gentle-hearted beauty.”

– Bustle.com

“Intricately constructed… If you are looking for a break from the same old, same old, yearning maybe for a stretch of calm sea that still takes you on an eye-opening voyage, then let Paul Yoon show you the way.”

– The Washington Review of Books

"A quiet exploration of love and starting over, Yoon's novel is a brilliant story of a young man who leaves his native Korea for Brazil in the aftermath of the Korean War."
The San Francisco Chronicle

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