Joe Milan Jr with Peter Bognanni
About the Book:
Introducing a character as viscerally believable and unforgettable as any in fiction, The All-American is a triumph—full of energy, dark humor, suspense, and hard-won wisdom.
Seventeen-year-old Bucky Yi knows nothing about his birth country of South Korea or his bio-dad’s disappearance; he can’t even pronounce his Korean name correctly. Running through the woods of rural Washington State with a tire tied to his waist, his sights are set on one all-American goal: to become a college football player.
So when a misadventure with his adoptive family leads the U.S. government to deport him to South Korea, he’s forced to navigate an entirely foreign version of his life. One mishap leads to another, and as an outsider, Bucky has to fall back on not just his raw physical strength, but resources of character and attitude he didn’t know he had. In an expat bar in Seoul, in the bleak barracks of his Korean military, on a remote island where an erratic sergeant fights a shadow-war with North Korean spies, and in the remote town where he seeks out his drunken, indebted biological father, Bucky has to assemble the building blocks of a new language and stubbornly rebuild himself from scratch. That means managing his ego, insecurities, sexual desires, family legacies, and allegiances in order to make it back home—wherever that might be—and determine who he is to himself, who he is to others, and what kind of man he wants to become.
“With lean, propulsive prose, Joe Milan Jr. has created an unforgettable character in American fiction. Part high drama, part dark comedy of the absurd, The All-American is as wonderfully entertaining as it is moving, and I simply could not put it down.”
-Andre Dubus III, author of Townie
“A potent, spellbinding novel about the meaning of family and the pull of home. Joe Milan Jr. is a writer with guts and talent.”
-Jean Chen Ho, author of Fiona and Jane
“A funny and heartbreaking novel that gets to the heart of our post-national world.”
-Jess Row, author of White Flights
“A profoundly moving meditation on nationhood, belonging, and the possibility of rebirth. With this incredible debut, Joe Milan Jr. has rocketed himself into the literary stratosphere.”
-Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“An irreverent, bold page-turner, self-assured and engrossing, this is one of those rare first novels that breathes new life into the journey toward self-revelation. Endlessly rewarding.”
-Mat Johnson, author of Invisible Things
“Milan sustains in his narrator an amusingly bewildered, blundering, bumptious voice along with a leavening sense of absurdity…An unusual take on undocumented immigration that makes for a strong debut.”
-Kirkus (starred review)
About The Author:
Joe Milan Jr. is a Korean American author of the novel The All-American (W.W. Norton, 2023). He was the 2019-20 David T.K. Wong Creative Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia and a Black Mountain Institute Ph.D. Fellow at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. His work has appeared in wonderful places like The Rumpus, F(r)iction, The Kyoto Journal, and others. He teaches Creative Writing at Waldorf University in Iowa. www.joemilanjr.com
Peter Bognanni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His debut novel, The House of Tomorrow, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the ALA Alex Award and has been adapted into a feature film. He teaches creative writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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