A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s.
This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence.
A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety evocatively portrays the life of a young Korean Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family.
“Ann Y.K. Choi deftly negotiates the tightrope between a teenager’s dreams in the new world and the expectations of her immigrant parents who, in honouring tradition, also know too well that the family’s future teeters on the precarious, possibly deadly livelihood of their variety store. Told in taut but measured prose, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety invites the reader into the intimate life of Mary—or Yu-Rhee, her given Korean name—and explores perennial questions of the meaning of identity and home.”
“A story of Korea and Canada, of parental sacrifice and filial duty, of inconceivable loss, and budding literary desire, all set in a decade of Tiger Beat, Star Wars and Cyndi Lauper. Choi’s first novel is both bittersweet and exhilarating. For me, the real beauty of this book is to show that, for many of us, writing may be our most embracing and true home.”
“Lots of heart and candour. . . . At its core, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is a thoughtful examination of the ties between women. . . . Choi sifts through the forces that cause those ties to strain and even snap, and the hard work required to knit them together again.”
“Ann Y.K. Choi’s exploration of the traditions and secrets of the old world as they collide with the promise and demands of the new world make this piercing and honest debut novel a must read. A deceptively clear and compelling voice signals Choi as a great new writer to watch.”
“A powerful emotional core. . . . Choi's book a welcome breath of fresh air.”
“Choi’s debut novel is an enjoyable coming-of-age story that celebrates the triumphs and mourns the losses in the life of a young woman finding her way as a Korean immigrant in Toronto in the 1980s. . . . A gratifying read, a story clearly and honestly told.”
“Ann Y.K. Choi’s dramatic debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, flings open a window onto a family—an entire world—largely unknown to non-Koreans. . . . ‘Don’t worry, be happy,’ went the infectious ’80s hit, a line that both mocks and honours the world so finely rendered in this explosive and heartfelt debut.”