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Snow Hunters

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  1,178 ratings  ·  287 reviews
In this elegant, haunting, and highly anticipated debut novel from 5 Under 35 National Book Foundation honoree Paul Yoon, a North Korean war refugee confronts the wreckage of his past. With spare, evocative prose, Snow Hunters traces the extraordinary journey of Yohan, who defects from his country at the end of the war, leaving his friends and family behind to seek a new l ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published August 1st 2013)
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First impression: There is beauty in the words. You feel the North Korean war refugee's aloofness in his new country, Brazil. The distance he feels and his reticence is palpable. Narration by the author adds to the lines' impact. A blanket of quiet overlays the story.

People can talk without words. What is not said can speak louder than what is said. And what a person does doesn’t always reflect what they are really saying. (view spoiler)
The Author opens this tale successfully with a scene where his protagonist is arriving at a harbor in Brasil on a boat from Korea, he lets you feel and see the scene with his writing. The story starts intriguingly, with a great sense of place and people, you want to be with this Korean and see how he manages in the pursuit of his happiness in Brazil. Lost in translation he may tread forth, lost in soul and love his is not.
Told with a wonderful fluid and elegant prose, his writing has you feel an
There's a John Updike story called "Delicate Wives" that I remember reading when I was 18 and obsessed with the idea of becoming a New Yorker-type writer. In the story, a wife on the cusp of her thirtieth birthday is stung by a bee and goes into anaphylactic shock; it is only because her husband rushes her to the local hospital that she survives. But the story doesn't concern her so much as the man with whom she'd had an affair the summer before--Les, who learns of the emergency through the goss ...more
The one word that kept coming to me when I read this book was "Exquisite." I have not read Yoon before but have heard many accolades. They are justified.

I can't say this book is for everyone. It embodies that Q word lit writers often hear from agents/editors: Quiet. This is one of the quietest novels I've ever read. But I love quiet when it's done well. I love folks on the margins who have so much empty space around them that they notice every drop of water or slant of light. Reminds me of CE Mo
To be as gregarious as I am, there seems to be something in these subtle, little reflective novels that draws me in. For the most part, a story of a man who leads a life spent in almost solitude. I know that sounds exciting- and if action packed, suspenseful reading is all you care for then avoid this one as you will probably not find much here that appeals to your endorphin receptors.

The writing here is minimalist. It's prose, but written poetically. A 180 page haiku of sorts without the restr
We are all aware of the difficulties soldiers experience when attempting to move on with life after having served time in a war. “Difficulty” is oftentimes an understatement. Author Paul Yoon narrates the assimilation of Yohan, (a Korean soldier) to a new life in the aftermath of the Korean War in “Snow Hunters”.

“Snow Hunters” is certainly not a “typical” fictional novel. Cosmetically, it is about the size of an adult hand and would decrease in length by half if the pages were a full-size book
This small book was charming. Oddly sized, one reviewer noted that it was about the size of a hand. In my case, it was smaller than my hand, but every page was filled with lovely, sometimes heartbreakingly beautiful prose. I am not sure how wide its appeal will be with no action and next to no dialogue, but for sheer imagery and captivating passages, it glows like a moonstone.

Shortly after the Korean War ends, Yohan boards a cargo ship bound for Brazil, choosing to defect from North Korea. With
Snow Hunters is a quiet book written in short, deft strokes. It is similar to Hemingway in style, if not in content. Admittedly, it is a difficult thing to pull off, a mood thing. The author's purpose? To subdue the reader unawares until he feels fully invested with the protagonist (here, Yohan -- a Korean ex-pat) and fully infused into the setting (here, the coast of Brazil). Unusual? Yes. And thus my interest, despite the glaring weaknesses in plot.

It's only a partial success, alas. At times t
Linda Robinson
This book is like learning to breathe again. That's how I described it to a friend. You feel the air enter your lungs when Yohan arrives at the Brazil docks and gets an umbrella from an apparition in a long scarf far above him on the deck. When he looks again, she and her small companion are gone. You hear the air enter your lungs when Yohan meets Kiyoshi who waves his hand for him to enter. Come in, come in and our young hero leaves his blue umbrella outside the door. And Yoon then sweeps you t ...more
*Won the ARC through Goodreads giveaway*

Such a small book with so much life and power. It moves in a slow deliberate and eye oping ways. Taking us from North Korea to Brazil in the mide 50's. Nothing in this book happens fast it all small wonderful steps opening in what I would say reminds me of frame by frame of a flower turning towards the sun. In this book you will find loss, death, hope and love. If you are in need of now, now, now lets go. then this not for you.. If you want to see life blo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Snow Hunters features a meditative prose almost as delicate as the thin pages the story was printed on. A recent arrival to South America, Yohan is a North Korean War refugee who finds himself an apprentice to a Japanese tailor in a port town of Brazil in the 1950s. Yoon’s writing style is similar to that of Hemingway, concise and stripped, but his quiet writing style also provides a subtle tenderness.

Brevity may the one of the first words that come to mind at the sight of this small 208 page de
I received this book as a First Reads advance copy. It was an interesting book. It is written in a very poetic style with unconventional syntax and punctuation which may not appeal to some. The story is told in a non-linear fashion, jumping around in time and place, much like the experience of our own lives, where an event in the present may trigger a memory of the past with no sequential rhyme or reason. Although written in third person, we live the story through Yohan's eyes, being privy only ...more
sometimes I think I am incapable of catching the nuances of a book like this... I guess I am just used to more detail in the books I read so I wasn't real sure of the story of this one.. I just wanted Yohan to have a better life.......
Vaddey Ratner
Absolutely gorgeous.
*Won the ARC through Goodreads giveaway*

Snow Hunters tells the story of Yohan, a North Korean refugee who moves to Brazil after the war. He moves in and works with Kiyoshi a Japanese tailor.

I enjoyed this book, for the most part. Particularly the relationship between Kiyoshi and Yohan. While the story is about Yohan, I felt we ended up learning more about the people around him. However, some of the other sub-characters were primarily focused on were not fleshed out. Their presence in the book wa
Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall:

After the Korean War, North Korean refugee Yohan emigrates to Brazil for a fresh start. All that Yohan has left behind and how it was lost is revealed in brief moments throughout the story, woven between his new experiences in Brazil, where he reacclimates to life outside the POW camp.

This is a quiet book. New relationships develop gradually; kindness is offered gently. Even moments when Yohan remembers the atrocities of war have an ee
I envisioned a story of action, chase and suspense when I scanned the description of Snow Hunters, a book about a North Korean prisoner of war who defects from his country to find freedom in Brazil. I was intrigued when it also described the story as a quiet, light and extraordinarily tender meditation. I was curious ...

Do you remember sledding as a child? The thrill of flying down a hill at top speed, squealing with excitement as cold, wet snowflakes slapped your face and blinded your eyes … ho
There is not one spare word in Paul Yoon’s Snow Hunters, a 192-page reverie to what it means to start a new life after traumatic loss and displacement. Written in a minimalistic style, the writing style might be described as “ala prima” – quickly sketching the scenario with rapid and broad brushstrokes, at the same time creating lines to establish the form.

The story centers loosely around Yohan, a solitary man who chooses to restart life on the coast of Brazil rather than submit to repatriation
Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon is a beautiful little book. It seemed almost fairytale like or seeing a life of a person through a light fog. The story alternates between different times in the life of a Korean expatriate. When he was a boy brought up with kindness but without emotion or conversation by his father. He ran away from North Korea after the war. He had been imprisoned for two years with a casual friend of his childhood.

After Yohan gets off the boat to Brazil, he heads for an address on
I picked up Paul Yoon’s Snow Hunters on a day that was blanketed in white. As I headed to the bookstore, my feet crunched their imprints into the ground, and all I could think about was curling up under my favorite blanket with a new book. Browsing the shelves at Open Books, I was drawn to this minuscule title, its blazing cover offset by embossed type and the small silhouette of a man with an umbrella and a bicycle. Upon reading the title, I knew I must take it home. The weather induced my impu ...more
I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program.

Snow Hunters tells the story of Yohan, a young North Korean man captured by the Americans in the Korean War. At the "end" of the Korean War, he is given the chance to be repatriated to North Korea, but he chooses to defect instead. Yohan finds himself in Brazil as the result of a refugee placement program, trying to grapple with his past and find his way in a completely new world.

One of the major themes in the novel hing
Some of my favorite novels are the shortest – J. L. Carr's perfect A Month in the Country, or Peter Cameron's more rueful The Weekend. Snow Hunters belongs in their company. Even if it's not perfect it casts a spell, short enough to stay its readers in its dream.

The book centers on the solitary Yohan, who comes in 1954 from an internment camp in Korea to a town somewhere on the Brazilian coast. Not much happens for the next nine years, which allows us to share his solitude and his good fortune i
Chihoe Ho
I tried my hardest to like this book. But no matter how hard I tried, this was lacklustre. The problem I think I had with this novel is that it had too much of a fall/winter feel to it. Cool and somber; nothing at all like something one can fully grasp in the midst of a summer season. Yet, I find myself arguing that a good book should not hinge on seasonality, but should span the moods of generations and locales.

Elements of it had potential but they just didn't gel well - the story went nowhere;
North Korea seems to be a popular topic in recent books, including Pulitzer Prize winning The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. While I haven’t read The Orphan Master’s Son (but it’s on my bookshelf), I picked up a copy of Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon during BEA’s book club speed dating session. The tome was originally over 500 pages long but the finished version is 194 pages. How does one go from 500 down to 194? I was intrigued.

The novel opens with Yohan aboard a cargo ship, headed to his new
ARC received courtesy of giveaway

"Snow Hunters" is a novel that makes you stop every few pages and reflect on the author's words. The publisher's accompanying letter said that the novel had started out at over 500 pages and the author edited it down to 194! So, every single sentence is filled with meaning. There are no wasted or excessive words. Because of this, the reader must be totally into the book; no wandering minds allowed!

The novel is the story of a man who started his life
I received an advanced reader copy of this book from a GoodReads giveaway. Snow Hunters is a beautifully written novel about a released Korean prisoner of war who repatriates to Brazil. I was not surprised to see that the author is an acclaimed writer of short stories, because in many ways each chapter seemed almost like it could stand alone as a short story. It took me a little while to get through the book, although it was a slim volume. There isn't much forward momentum in the novel - nothing ...more
At the end of the Korean War, Yohan, a North Korean, defects from his country and settles in Brazil. Yohan is an introspective man, and the book conveys this beautifully. Slow paced and moving between past and present it tells of his childhood and wartime experiences in Korea and of his gradual assimilation into the small Brazilian coastal town's society. Beautifully written.
On the one hand, I felt that this was a beautiful story; on the other hand, I felt that there was an invisible barrier between me and the characters in this small novel. The literary style lacks the sense of immediacy that usually makes me feel connected to a story, adopting instead a distancing contemplative tone.

As a piece of "literary fiction" this novel tends towards the philosophical and doesn't have much going on plot-wise, but that's the whole point. This is a subtle piece of fiction, the
I was drawn in by the cover, but stayed in for the contents. The story was as charming as the cover, very well written small book about a small life in a sense that it didn't have rollicking adventures or shocking plot twists, it was simply a book about one man's journey from a war torn home country to a far away land, about making a life for yourself, fitting in, finding a vocation, a home, a place to belong and the characters one meets along the way who help give life its contours and flavors. ...more
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Paul Yoon was born in New York City. He lives in Massachusetts and is the Roger F. Murray Chair in Creative Writing at Phillips Academy.
More about Paul Yoon...
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“It was as though someone, somewhere, were dreaming this and he had crossed into it without permission. Everything both familiar and foreign.” 2 likes
“This momentary bridge. The wonder of a shared memory, returned. Of a place once theirs and a life that had already been lived.” 2 likes
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