copyright (c) 2022 Juhea Kim
Juhea Kim was born in Incheon, Korea, and moved to Portland, Oregon, at age nine. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Art and Archaeology and a certificate in French. Her debut novel Beasts of a Little Land, an Indie Bestseller, was published by Ecco in December 2021. It will be published around the world in 2022.
Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Granta, Slice, Zyzzyva, Catapult, Times Literary Supplement, Joyland, Shenandoah, Guernica, Sierra Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, The Independent, Portland Monthly, and Dispatches from Annares anthology (Nov 2021, Forest Avenue Press). Her translation of Yi Sang Award-winning author Choi In-Ho was published in Granta. She is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling, an online magazine covering sustainable lifestyle and ecological literature. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference, Regional Arts & Culture Council, and Arizona State University, where she taught a class on ecological fiction as a 2020 Desert Nights Rising Stars Fellow. She is represented by Jody Kahn at Brandt & Hochman Literary Agency and United Talent Agency (film/TV).
She is donating a portion of the proceeds of Beasts of a Little Land to the Phoenix Fund, a Siberian tiger and Amur leopard conservation nonprofit based in Vladivostok, Russia.
© Nola Logan
I learned to read and write twice. First, by looking over my seven-year-old sister's shoulder, at age two; then when my family moved to the U.S. and I had to start over from the alphabet at age nine. Contrary to the myth that children absorb a new language in a flash, I went to school for almost a year not understanding more than a few sentences a day. As English finally started entering my consciousness, I realized that language is power. To be able to speak, to understand, to write—that was the basis of agency.
Once I had two languages at my disposal, I also became fascinated with the distinct, even contradictory values defined by each. Beyond power, language is also ethos. This was the beginning of my lifelong query: how language determines and defines the human experience. Both fiction and nonfiction are ways in which I attempt to answer this question. Kafka wrote, "A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us." I also think often of Auden's call for "art that shall teach man to unlearn hatred and learn love." To awaken consciousness and conscience is why I'm called to write.
Through nonfiction, I also explore climate change, sustainability, and conservation. Besides literature, nature has been my other lifelong constant. I'm an ethical vegan, composting enthusiast, plastic vigilante, nature photographer, and avid hiker. I've also spoken as an expert on sustainable entrepreneurship at Princeton University, Saks Fifth Avenue, Athleta, Good Goods, and others. While I write in English, I also enjoy reading in Korean and French, and teaching myself new languages. In these and other endeavors, I always get help from my office assistants/rescue cats Zeus and Kili (Achilles). Most of the year we live in a solar-powered home in beautiful Portland, Oregon.