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Snow Hunters

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  1,657 Ratings  ·  372 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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Vaddey Ratner
Jan 12, 2013 Vaddey Ratner rated it it was amazing
Absolutely gorgeous.
Aug 21, 2013 Lou rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 14, 2013 Shannon rated it it was amazing

*I won this book via Goodreads*
5 Stars
After the Korean War, Yohan finds himself making a new life on the coast of Brazil. There he finds himself the friend and apprentice of a tailor, Kiyoshi. Through their work he learns a new language and the way of life in the community. Acquaintances and relationships come and go with time but the bond he forms with Kiyoshi, the church groundskeeper, and two vagabond children is what helps him conquer the demons of his past so he can embrace the future.
Apr 25, 2013 Jill rated it liked it
Shelves: asian-literature
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
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
Aug 24, 2013 Orsolya rated it it was amazing
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
*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
Nov 03, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
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
Aug 18, 2013 Jaci rated it liked it
Shelves: own, read-in-2013
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
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)
Sep 04, 2013 Zoeytron rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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
*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
Jan 24, 2014 Adam rated it really liked it
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
Oct 30, 2014 Tara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asian-literature
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
Sep 30, 2013 Gina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction, 2013
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
Jim Coughenour
Aug 21, 2013 Jim Coughenour rated it liked it
Shelves: bleakfiction
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
Sep 21, 2013 Suzi rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
Oct 24, 2013 Douglas rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 13, 2013 Ken rated it liked it
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
Oct 01, 2013 Josh rated it really liked it
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
Linda Robinson
Oct 06, 2013 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 24, 2014 Amina | PAPER/PLATES rated it really liked it
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
Jan 18, 2015 Sue rated it liked it
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.......
May 20, 2015 SUSAN rated it really liked it
Serene,tranquil,subtle,charming,beautifully written. Full review to come.
Jul 30, 2015 Celeste rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This book is one of the stack that I bought on BookOutlet for next to nothing. I thought the cover was pretty.

Yoon's writing style is so sparse, and it kind of reminds me of Hemingway or Steinbeck in that he communicates so much without gushing words all over the page. Yoon was able to create this gentle streaming consciousness between the present day of the protagonist and his memories from war-torn Korea. It's emotional writing.

Only a couple of things bothered me. The biggest was that Yoon doe
Sep 20, 2015 Angela rated it it was amazing
Jan 15, 2016 Ash rated it really liked it
Ironically, this book was a customer's recommendation after I helped her locating another of Yoon's. I seemed to be in a bit of a reading slump as of late and Paul Yoon's Snow Hunters is just what the doctor ordered.

Taking place after the Korean War, the protagonist Yohan has defected against his country and has taken a working boat to Brazil. He befriends a kind elderly tailor, Kiyoshi, who takes him in as an apprentice. While gaining a life, he forms relationships with Peixe, a groundskeeper a
Jun 17, 2016 Donna rated it liked it
A GR friend used the following words to describe this book: Serene, tranquil, subtle, charming. I don't dispute that. It really was all of those things. BUT......I am definitely not a fan of authors reading their own work. A few authors can carry it off, most CANNOT!!! This was read in the same exact tone and it was kind of drab. Thankfully it was a short book. I would not recommend the audio. If you want to read it, get the kindle or paper version.
Roger Brunyate
May 26, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it
A Precious Novel

PRECIOUS. The word can have two meanings. Rare, valuable, exquisite—or just too self-consciously arty for its own good. The trouble is that both meanings can apply to this book, and it entirely depends on your taste whether you treasure it or dismiss it. So let me try to keep my own mood out of this for as long as possible, and look at the book objectively: first the facts, then the arguments pro and con.

FACTS. The story begins in 1954, shortly after the end of the Korean War. A
Sorayya Khan
Oct 04, 2016 Sorayya Khan rated it really liked it
This is the quietest, softest book I've read in a long while. It moves along with the sparsest language, evocative and sharp enough to paint the quiet rhythm of a story and a soul. The subject matter is not easy, which makes the language choice all the more remarkable. Yohan, a young North Korean soldier, opts to immigrate to a small port city in Brazil rather than return home after being in a prison camp. Throughout this slim novel, Yohan remembers the war and what he has seen, and especially h ...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.” 3 likes
“He thought of these yers as another life within the one he had. As though it were a thing he was able to carry. A small box. A handkerchief. A stone. He did not understand how a life could vanish. How that was even possible. How it could close in an instant before you even reach inside one last time, touch someone's hand one last time. How there would come a day when no one would wonder about the life he had before this one.” 3 likes
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