E.J. Koh '13 Nominated for 2024 NYPL Young Lions Award

Lisa Cochran
May 10, 2024

Writing alumna E.J. Koh ’13 has been named a finalist for the 2024 NYPL Young Lions Award for her novel, The Liberators (Tin House Books, 2023). The award is conferred annually to an American writer aged 35 or younger for a formidable novel or short story collection.

This prestigious award was founded in 2001 by alumnus Rick Moody ’86, Ethan Hawke, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, and Hannah McFarland. The award winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000. 

The Liberators, a novel recounting the flight of a married Korean couple and their family members to California during The Gwangju Uprising in 1980, has received widespread acclaim. “A piercing, patient debut by one of our finest chroniclers of American han,” writes Adjunct Assistant Professor and alumnus Ed Park ’85. “You won’t know what hit you until the final, perfect image.”

"E. J. Koh brings a poet’s eye and sensibility to this remarkable novel. Here you will find characters and sentences that will leave you gasping for more," says Assistant Professor Matthew Salesses. "The Liberators captures grief and paranoia and a legacy of colonialism and violence with beauty and measure and grace."

The 2024 NYPL Young Lions winner will be announced during an Award Ceremony on June 13 in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. 

E.J. Koh currently lives in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of the memoir The Magical Language of Others (Tin House Books, 2020)––the winner of a Pacific Northwest Book Award, an Association for Asian American Studies Book Award, and a Washington State Book Award as well as a nominee for the PEN Open Book Award. She has also published a poetry collection, A Lesser Love (LSU Press, 2017), a Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry winner.

Koh has received Macdowell and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. She received a PhD from the University of Washington. Her work can be read in World Literature Today, AGNI, The Atlantic, The Boston Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetry, Slate, and elsewhere.