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Michelle Zauner

Frontwoman of Japanese Breakfast and author of New York Times bestselling Crying in H Mart

2022 KACF Gala | Trailblazer Award: Michelle Zauner
  • About Michelle Zauner

    Michelle Zauner is the acclaimed author of the bestselling Crying in H Mart, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. With humor and heart, Zauner describes her adolescence in Oregon, discovering her love of music, and her complex relationship with her mother—from struggling to meet her high expectations to bonding with her over plates of steaming food on trips to Seoul.

    When Zauner was 25, her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Zauner moved home to become her mother’s caretaker, embarking on a journey that would force a reckoning with her identity and eventually a reclamation of the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her. In her vivacious talks, Zauner shares her story of family, food, grief, and self-discovery, along with anecdotes from her childhood and career as a musical artist.

    Crying in H Mart instantly rocketed to the New York Times bestseller list, where it has stayed for over a year. It was named one of the year’s best books by The New York Times, TIME, NPR, Washington Post, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, and more. President Obama also included Crying in H Mart among his “Favorite Books of the Year.”

    In 2022, TIME named Michelle Zauner one of its “100 Most Influential People.” For the occasion, comedian Bowen Yang wrote, “While she intertwines the threads of her art into perfect plaits, she lets us find something in our own lives, a new strand with which to adorn ourselves. It doesn’t get better than that. Everybody wants to love her.”

    Zauner initially launched to fame as the frontwoman for Japanese Breakfast, a Grammy-nominated indie pop band that has toured internationally and appeared on Saturday Night Live. They have released three studio albums: Psychopomp (2016), Soft Sounds from Another Planet (2017), and Jubilee (2021). In addition to writing, singing, and performing, Zauner has also directed many of Japanese Breakfast’s music videos.

    Zauner is currently adapting Crying in H Mart into a feature film through Orion Pictures. When she is not on tour, she lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, Japanese Breakfast guitarist Peter Bradley.

    Contact us about booking Michelle Zauner for a speaking engagement. 

  • Speaking Topics

    A Conversation with Michelle Zauner

    Join Michelle Zauner as she discusses her bestselling memoir, Crying in H Mart. In this in-conversation event, Zauner shares how she connected with her mother and her heritage through food, and the profound healing that can be unlocked through stories that show communities in all their complexity.

  • Video

  • Praise for Michelle Zauner


    That event was fantastic. Michelle is incredibly kind, generous and a true rock star in every sense of the word. She presents the perfect balance of authenticity, vulnerability, humor, and cool.

    Cuyahoga County Public Library

    Michelle did a great job! She was very engaging, accommodating, and was so kind to all of the attendees getting their books signed!

    Grand Rapids Public Library

    Praise for Crying in H Mart

    Lyrical… Earnest… Zauner does a good job capturing the grief of losing a parent with pathos. Fans looking to get a glimpse into the inner life of this megawatt pop star will not be disappointed.

    Publishers Weekly

    Poignant . . . A tender, well-rendered, heart-wrenching account of the way food ties us to those who have passed. The author delivers mouthwatering descriptions of dishes like pajeon, jatjuk, and gimbap, and her storytelling is fluid, honest, and intimate. When a loved one dies, we search all of our senses for signs of their presence. Zauner’s ability to let us in through taste makes her book stand out—she makes us feel like we are in her mother’s kitchen, singing her praises.

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


    Electric Lit

    Crying in H Mart is palpable in its grief and its tenderness, reminding us what we all stand to lose.


    A candid, moving tribute to her mother, to her identity, and to our collective desire for connection in this often alienating world…Zauner’s writing is powerful in its straight-forwardness, though some turns of phrases are as beautiful as any song lyric… but it is her ability to convey how her mother’s simple offering of a rice snack was actually an act of the truest love that leaves the most indelible impression.

    Refinery 29

    The book’s descriptions of jjigae, tteokbokki, and other Korean delicacies stand out as tokens of the deep, all-encompassing love between Zauner and her mother . . . Zauner’s frankness around death feels like an unexpected yet deeply necessary gift.


    Crying in H Mart is a wonder: A beautiful, deeply moving coming-of-age story about mothers and daughters, love and grief, food and identity. It blew me away, even as it broke my heart.

    Adrienne Brodeur, author of Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me

    Zauner’s storytelling is impeccable. Memories are rendered with a rich immediacy, as if bathed in a golden light. Zauner is also adept at mapping the contradictions in her relationship with, and perception of, her mother. The healing, connective power of food reverberates in nearly every chapter of this coming-of-age story, [in] sensuous descriptions . . . Heartfelt, searching, wise.

    AV Club

    A profound, timely exploration of terminal illness, culture and shared experience . . . Zauner has accomplished the unthinkable: a book that caters to all appetites. She brings dish after dish to life on the page in a rich broth of delectable details [and] offers remarkably prescient observations about otherness from the perspective of the Korean American experience. Crying in H Mart will thrill Japanese Breakfast fans and provide comfort to those in the throes of loss while brilliantly detailing the colorful panorama of Korean culture, traditions and food.

    San Francisco Chronicle

    A warm and wholehearted work of literature, an honest and detailed account of grief over time, studded with moments of hope, humor, beauty, and clear-eyed observation. This story is a nuanced portrayal of a young person grappling with what it means to embody familial and cultural histories, to be fueled by creative pursuits, to examine complex relationships with place, and to endure the acute pain of losing a parent just on the other side of a tumultuous adolescence . . . Crying in H Mart is not to be missed.

    The Seattle Times

    I read Crying in H Mart with my heart in my throat. In this beautifully written memoir, Michelle Zauner has created a gripping, sensuous portrait of an indelible mother-daughter bond that hits all the notes: love, friction, loyalty, grief. All mothers and daughters will recognize themselves—and each other—in these pages.

    Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance

    Michelle Zauner has written a book you experience with all of your senses: sentences you can taste, paragraphs that sound like music. She seamlessly blends stories of food and memory, sumptuousness and grief, to weave a complex narrative of loyalty and loss.

    Rachel Syme
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