A BEST OF THE MONTH SELECTION BY OPRAH MAGAZINE
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF 2021
“An eminent South Korean talent makes her American début in this poignant watercolor of a novel . . . Kim is a writer on the move.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
Ae-ran Kim's My Brilliant Life explores family bonds and out-of-the-ordinary friendships, interweaving the past and present of a tight-knit family, finding joy and happiness in even the most difficult times.
Areum lives life to its fullest, vicariously through the stories of his parents, conversations with Little Grandpa Jang—his sixty-year-old neighbor and best friend—and through the books he reads to visit the places he would otherwise never see.
For several months, Areum has been working on a manuscript, piecing together his parents’ often embellished stories about his family and childhood. He hopes to present it on his birthday, as a final gift to his mom and dad; their own falling-in-love story.
Through it all, Areum and his family will have you laughing and crying, for all the right reasons.
“This novel snuck up on me and captured my heart.” —Margarita Montimore, USA Today bestselling author of Oona Out of Order
“This novel snuck up on me and captured my heart.”
—Margarita Montimore, USA Today bestselling author of Oona Out of Order
“Poetic . . . the humor, wisdom, and grace of this family carry us through a touching story of the hardest of times.”
—Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is
“Heartfelt, hilarious, and full of wonder—My Brilliant Life is extraordinary and Ae-ran Kim astounds. Her novel is a warm, expansive exploration of family, the many different ways we love, and the infinite lives that each of us lives. It’s the loveliest book.”
—Bryan Washington, USA Today bestselling author of Memorial
“A moving, earnest, and deeply-felt exploration of a unique family in all its joys and disappointments.”
—Claire Lombardo, New York Times bestselling author of The Most Fun We Ever Had
“This is one of those novels where the characters seem to have immortal souls. They’re so real to me I feel like adding them to my Christmas card list. When you read this book, give them my regards. Let them know I still think about them.”
—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“Stylish and engaging, this eloquent book encompasses with compassion and discernment the ordinary miracles of birth and death and everything in between.”
—Kathleen Rooney, national bestselling author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
“Areum discovers more wisdom, humor, and insight in seventeen years of life than many of us find in a lifetime.”
—Heather Harpham, award-winning playwright and author of Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
“To read Ae-ran Kim is to fall in love with her.”
—Kyung-sook Shin, New York Times bestselling and Man Asian Prize winning author of Please Look After Mom
“An eminent South Korean talent makes her American début in this poignant watercolor of a novel . . . Kim is a writer on the move.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“My Brilliant Life is an achingly beautiful story.”
—Shelf Awareness starred review
“Compounding moments of insight and joy resonate deeply, with heartwarming results.”
“Areum’s reckoning with his fate makes for a wrenching story. This slim book has so much heart, packing quite an emotional investment into its 208 pages. As fleeting as Areum’s fictional life may be, he will not be a character easily forgotten.”
“This quirky, bighearted book crackles with life on every page.”
“It's a flawless book . . . I loved My Brilliant Life.”
—Books and Bao