cover image Tastes Like War: A Memoir

Tastes Like War: A Memoir

Grace M. Cho. Feminist Press, $17.95 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-1-952177-94-1

In this searing memoir, Cho (Haunting the Korean Diaspora) charts her Korean mother’s descent into schizophrenia while unpacking the ramifications of racism in America. In grappling with the disease that “erased her [mother’s] personhood,” but somehow always felt avoidable to Cho, she voraciously researched schizophrenia and found that her “mother’s case tick[ed] off five out of six boxes,” associated with its development: “social adversity... low socioeconomic status, physical or sexual trauma.... immigration and being a person of color in a white neighborhood.” Through meditative prose, Cho attempts to write her mother “back into existence,” illustrating how her mother’s circumstances growing up amid the horrors of the Korean War, marrying Cho’s American father in 1971, and landing in a small, overwhelmingly white (and prejudiced) town in Washington State all but created the perfect storm for her unraveling. By chronicling the stories of her “three mothers”—the “charismatic” mother of her 1970s childhood, who foraged for food in the woods; the one of her adolescence, who developed “florid psychosis,” and delusions about Ronald Reagan; and the mother who slowly let her adult daughter in, with food and cooking as the conduit—Cho hauntingly captures the fragility of life in its most painful and beautiful moments. This heartfelt and nuanced tribute is remarkable. (May)