My Korean Deli

My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe

This is the story of a self proclaimed "tight bummed Puritain" from Boston who is married to a Korean woman. They live with her parents in Staten Island (in the basement). Their grand plan is to pay her parents back for their generosity by buying them a deli in Brooklyn and helping them run it.

There are all sorts of problems. The wife's family immigrated to the US from Korea and they still have some "old country" values that clash with Ben's Puritain ways. He ends up slacking on his real job in order to take care of the deli. He meets some suspicious characters in his days of working in the deli.

I liked this book. I liked it because the author doesn't lie about the fact that he has troubles with this. He and his wife have troubles with their relationship as well as the relationship with her parents. It is not easy. He doesn't try to hard to make it a funny book or a witty one. He just tells the story like it is.

In fact, sometimes I almost wished he would be a little more reactive. He seems so blase about some of the things that happen. As if he is a journalist reporting the story, and not someone who it actually happened to. For example, in the store, which they take over from a previous owner, there are several "regulars" who come in every night and drink beer in the store and just hang out getting drunk. Ben does not express very much fear or worry. He just seems to go with the flow, whereas I would be a bit stressed. Maybe he is but just doesn't portray it in the book.

It was also interesting to learn about some of the Korean traditions, which I had never heard of. Some of them are strange, but intruiging. I also love the description of the hard assed, hard working, take no nonsense, immigrant Mother-in-Law. She would be a great person to have on your side but a horrible one to have against you. I could totally see myself butting heads with her.

The wife is also interesting. A child of immigrant parents, she is torn between the Korean and American ways and values. It would be hard, I assume, to have to deal with her American husband and her Korean mother. She is often put in the middle, but luckily she is a strong character and comes out of everything just fine.

This book was a quick read and I enjoyed it very much. I had no problems turning the pages on this one.

I give it a 4 out of 5.

NOTE: I recieved this book for free from LibraryThing in return for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.


  1. Sounds interesting! The conflict between younger generations and older generations of immigrants can be pretty strong and hard to navigate, that is for sure :) This review makes me want to eat kimchi now!

  2. Sounds like a very interesting book. I will have to check it out. I really like it when people are honest about the difficulties of their life and their relationship isntead of painting a 'sunshine and rainbows' picture of life!


Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!