CSI’s Grace Cho Named to National Book Award Longlist

Grace Cho, CSI Associate Professor in the Sociology and Anthropology (SA) Department has recently been named to the Nonfiction Longlist of the National Book Awards for her book Tastes Like War.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have been recognized by the National Book Foundation for Tastes Like War,” Dr. Cho said. “When I consider the other titles on the Longlist—books that challenge the dominant narrative of the nation and demand a reckoning with our histories of racial violence and environmental destruction—it feels like even more of an honor to be included. I was shocked by the news. Academics are used to having small audiences, and although my second book is a move towards popular writing, I published it with the Feminist Press at CUNY, a small not-for-profit press with a modest marketing budget. I never dreamed that I could have been in the running for a National Book Award, or that I would suddenly be propelled into the spotlight. It is surreal, humbling, and thrilling all at once!”

In its summary of the book, Feminist Press noted, “Part food memoir, part sociological investigation, Tastes Like War is a hybrid text about a daughter’s search through intimate and global history for the roots of her mother’s schizophrenia. In her mother’s final years, Grace learned to cook dishes from her mother’s childhood in order to invite the past into the present, and to hold space for her mother’s multiple voices at the table. And through careful listening over these shared meals, Grace discovered not only the things that broke the brilliant, complicated woman who raised her—but also the things that kept her alive.”

Dr. Cho joined the faculty of SA in 2004 after completing her PhD in Sociology and Women’s Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY. In addition to her work as an academic, she was a contributing performance artist for the art collective Still Present Pasts: Korean Americans and the Forgotten War, which toured the U.S. and South Korea from January 2005 to May 2009. Her research interests include collective trauma, war and militarism, migration, labor, sexuality, performance, and food.

Dr. Cho is also the author of the book Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), which won a 2010 book award from the American Sociological Association. She has also published several articles and creative pieces in the journals, Catapult, The New Inquiry, Gastronomica, Contexts, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Feminist Studies, Women and Performance, Qualitative Inquiry, and Cultural Studies-Critical Methodologies.

According to the Awards’ Website, “The National Book Awards were established in 1950 to celebrate the best writing in America. Since 1989, they have been overseen by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture. Although other categories have been recognized in the past, the Awards currently honors the best Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature published each year. A panel of judges selects a Longlist of ten titles per category, which is then narrowed to five Finalists, and a Winner is announced at the Awards Ceremony in the fall. Each Finalist receives a prize of $1,000, a medal, and a Judge’s citation. Winners receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture…Publishers submitted a total of 679 books for the 2021 National Book Award for Nonfiction.”

The finalists will be named on October 5 with the winners to be announced on November 17.

By Terry Mares