A review of

Miles From Nowhere

by Nami Mun

Central question: What do you think God does to people like you?
Format: 304 pp., cloth; Size: 5" x 7"; Price: $21.95; Publisher: Riverhead; Editor: Megan Lynch; Print run: 35,000; Cover design: Evan Gaffney; Interior design: Claire Naylon Vaccaro; Typeface: Fairfield; Three former jobs held by Nami Mun: Avon lady, dance hostess, street vendor; Three jobs held by the novel’s main character, Joon: Avon lady, dance hostess, street vendor; Representative passage: “The only word he’d said in English was ‘excuses,’ as if to blame his weakness on America. The Pop Rocks were now bombing my stomach and a string of antibiotics shot up my throat.”

The cast of Nami Mun’s first novel is mostly tough-talking, drug-shooting, street-hustling teenage runaways in the 1980s Bronx. But you will find no doomed glamour or punk sound track here—just vulnerable, lost children, any of whom would love to go home, if there was a home that wanted them back. It’s entirely fitting, then, that the cover shows a miniature image of the square, low Bronx skyline at dusk, the buildings huddled under a vast, icy blue sky, with the tiny orange windows of tower blocks hinting at the presence of warmth inside.

Joon and Knowledge, the narrator and her best friend, are getting ready to “bust out” of an unlocked shelter as the story begins. “Over the speakers, dinner was being announced.” The promise Joon had made—to back up her best friend, no matter what—trumps the promise of a hot dinner. The shelter staff barely bats an eye at their escape, wearily reminding them that if they leave, they won’t be allowed back in out of the freezing December night.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Suzanne Kleid

Suzanne Kleid’s work has appeared in many publications including Bitch, Watchword, Other, and Pindeldyboz. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

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