Miles from Nowhere
Miles from Nowhere is a beautiful novel in the way that street graffiti can engage a city’s sense of artistry. Its strength comes from its sheer beauty in the face of so much ugliness, disappointment, and despair. In this novel, author Nami Mun can take a dollar store window full of soap and turn it into a kaleidoscope of colorful beauty, can turn the words of street kids and junkies into poetry. It’s not a journey everyone will want to make, but for those who do, there are some amazing literary rewards in store.
What feels like more of a compilation of short stories than a running storyline in a novel, Miles from Nowhere is the saga of Joon-Mee, a Korean-American teenager whose Bronx family life is so disturbing that she decides living on the street is better than remaining in her dysfunctional family. Following her life from homeless shelter to escort club, from deep dives into heroin to selling Avon door-to-door, the stories are engaging yet sobering, spare and beautiful.
Moreover, just when the reader is ready to write a situation off as hopeless, along comes a turn of phrase that completely reverses the entire scene, making it as beautiful as the moon emerging from a dark, clouded sky. It speaks volumes to Mun’s writing ability that she can turn a situation on a dime, making the most downtrodden characters into prophets and the most mundane of situations into something extraordinary, and worth exploring.
For those who would rather not see the sordid underbelly of the big city or follow the antics of its down-on-their-luck residents, Miles from Nowhere is not for you. Readers need a big view and a willingness to be open to seeing old things with new eyes. Mun has a great future ahead of her as a literary star if she can apply the writing chops demonstrated here to other subject matter. The book is a stunning debut novel. Writing a second novel that equals Miles from Nowhere will be the true test of what she has to offer the literary world.
by Christine Zibas
July 14, 2006
Book Review: "Miles from Nowhere" by Nami Mun
January 21, 2009 10:37 PM UTCviews: 0 comments: 22
Miles from Nowhere
Find more about: miles from nowhere, nami mun, riverhead books, fiction, debut novel, addiction, homelessness, runaways, new york city
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