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O Beautiful: A Novel (Paperback)
An incredibly powerful and timely book set in a small North Dakotan town that's in the middle of an oil boom. Yun turns this small town into a condensed version of America. It felt like a modern gold rush novel. Totally brilliant.— From Becky's Picks
Jung Yun's O Beautiful is a "mesmerizing and timely" (New York Times) novel about a woman trying to come to terms with the ghosts of her past and the tortured realities of a deeply divided America.
Elinor Hanson is struggling to reinvent herself as a freelance writer when she receives an unexpected assignment, a chance to write for a prestigious magazine about the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota. Elinor grew up near the Bakken, raised by an overbearing father and a distant Korean mother who met and married when he was stationed overseas.
After decades away from home, Elinor returns to a landscape she hardly recognizes, overrun by tens of thousands of newcomers. Surrounded by roughnecks seeking their fortunes in oil and long-time residents worried about their changing community, Elinor experiences a profound sense of alienation and grief. The longer she pursues this potentially career-altering assignment, the more her past intertwines with the story she’s trying to tell, revealing disturbing new realities that will forever change her and the way she looks at the world.
With graceful prose, Jung Yun's O Beautiful presents an immersive portrait of a community rife with tensions and competing interests, and one woman’s attempts to reconcile her anger with her love of a beautiful, but troubled land.
About the Author
Jung Yun was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Fargo, North Dakota. Her debut novel, Shelter was long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, and a semi-finalist for Good Reads’ Best Fiction Book of 2016. She was a MacDowell fellow, and her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Tin House, among others. Currently, she resides in Baltimore, and serves as an assistant professor of English at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
“Enthralling and thought-provoking…Explore[s] larger questions about power and belonging in modern America….A quiet and dangerous story and an insightful meditation on how to make our lives here, amid the beauty and horror of our country.”—Crystal Hana Kim, The Washington Post
“This mesmerizing and timely novel, the author’s second, provides an on-ramp into conversations about racism, environmentalism, journalism, economics and sisterhood.”—Elisabeth Egan, The New York Times
“A gripping page turner…I love this book because Yun doesn’t provide any easy answers to complex questions, the characters and setting are cinematically rendered, and the writing is just sublime.”—Elizabeth Greenwood, San Francisco Chronicle, “15 Best Books of 2021”
“Revelatory…Yun successfully takes on a host of hot button subjects, drilling through them with her protagonist’s laser-eyed focus.”—Publishers Weekly
“A novel that transcends genre; it is as propulsive as a mystery, as evocative of time and place as historical fiction, and as breathtakingly timely as contemporary fiction or journalism... Yun's tender, sparse prose and clear-eyed gaze make her sophomore release something truly special and poignant.... Insightful, shrewd, and surprisingly tender and heartfelt, O BEAUTIFUL is a searingly current and necessary addition to every bookshelf and library, and a courageous portrait of a country on the brink of unwinding.”—Rebecca Munro, Bookreporter.com
"With a shrewd eye and sharp sense of humor, Yun finds in the familiar tale of one woman’s return to her small town roots a story as big as the nation itself." —Rumaan Alam, New York Times bestselling author of Leave the World Behind
"A grand and stunning piece of work, at times humorous, sad, and breathtaking.”—Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Known World