Paul Yoon ’02 makes his literary debut with a short story collection, Once the Shore (Sarabande Books), about residents of an imaginary island somewhere off the coast of South Korea. In his eight stories, Yoon introduces characters who live over a span of half a century, several of them working in modern tourism jobs or more traditional fields of fishing, farming, and diving. Yoon often writes about individuals who have suffered great losses in their lives. His imaginary world was inspired by a handful of sources he happened to read, and he did little research for the book.
In the celebrated title story, a horrific accident at sea becomes the catalyst for an unlikely friendship between an American widow and a young waiter at a coastal resort.
This lyrical work was included in The Best American Short Stories 2006. Another story, “And We Will Be Here,” in which a troubled woman takes care of an unconscious soldier, was included this year in the Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories collection.
In her review of the collection in The New York Times, Joan Silber writes that “the beauty of these stories is precisely in their reserve: they are mild and stark at the same time. … Most of the collection’s characters move through events with a resignation or forbearance rare in contemporary fiction. Once the Shore is the work of a large and quiet talent.”
Link to New York Times short interview with Paul Yoon: http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/stray-questions-for-paul-yoon/