Coming Home Again


"I wasn't cooking for my mother but for the rest of us. When she first moved downstairs she was still eating, though scantily, more just to taste what we were having than from any genuine desire for food. The point was simply to sit together at the kitchen table and array ourselves like a family again. My mother would gently set herself down in her customary chair near the stove. I sat across from her, my father and sister to my left and right, and crammed in the center was all the food I had made – a spicy codfish stew, say, or a casserole of gingery beef, dishes that in my youth she had prepared for us a hundred times."

In Coming Home Again, celebrated novelist Chang-rae Lee, author of On Such a Full Sea and Native Speaker, recalls the year he spent living at home, learning to cook the Korean dishes of his childhood, before his mother died of stomach cancer. An achingly personal story about love, grief, and regret, Coming Home Again confronts the decisions we can't take back and the moments we can't let go with astounding grace and poignancy.

Coming Home Again was originally published in The New Yorker, October 16, 1995.

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