Once I wanted to be—and briefly was—an investment banker, but now I am a writer. Once I majored in economics, but now I traffic in make-believe. I always loved words; numbers always bored me. Sometimes, when I tell this story, people ask, But why on earth didn’t you begin by doing what you loved? There are times, though, when others—older family members, say, those raised in Korea—ask instead, Why did you stop doing what was responsible, what was right?

Responsibility, duty, honor, and respectability haunt Krystyn Lee Yang’s story of a Korean man’s freefall into joblessness, then homelessness and worse. But in a fall, sometimes, there is the possibility of flight.

—Reese Kwon

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