The end of the year and beginning of the new represent a moment to take a breath and consider the past, present and future. We asked University of Chicago scholars and staff what they’ve read this year that they’d recommend to the campus community: Their list includes subjects ranging from the multigenerational family struggles of Korean immigrants living in Japan, to a treatise on mushrooms and capitalism, to a meditation on what therapy can bring to our lives.
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
Recommended by: Sunyoung (Sunny) Park, Assistant Professor of Geophysical Sciences
“The novel describes multiple generations of a Korean family living in Japan during the 20th century: one of the most challenging periods in Korean history with Japanese colonization, World War II, and independence followed by the division of Korea and the Korean War. I was mesmerized by the family’s story, which is wonderfully depicted. The story made me talk to my grandmother to hear more about her experiences of the Korean War and later times. I believe that the characters’ lives as immigrants, struggling with racism and working diligently to support the family, resonate with many current-day families from different parts of the world and different histories.”
The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
Recommended by: Aziz Huq, the Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law
“This book is an anthropological study of the production and the consumption of the Matsutake mushroom, one of the most valuable fungi in the world—and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests in the Pacific Northwest. Tsing, not content with a mere anthropology, uses the Matsutake to explore global chains of capitalist relations, ecological catastrophe and its aftermath, and the experience of diaspora. The end result is both brilliant and unclassifiable.”