praise

Recognition & Awards

Kobo Emerging Writer Prize – finalist (June 2017)
Frank Hegyi Award for Emerging Authors – longlisted (May 2017)
Simon & Schuster Canada Book Club of the Month (March 2017)
One of CBC Books’ 12 Best Canadian Debut Novels of the Year (December 2016)
Toronto Book Awards – finalist (October 2016)
One of Bustle.com’s 13 Canadian Authors Everyone Should Read (July 2016)
Canadian Living Magazine Top Pick (June 2016)
One of CBC Books’ 12 Great books to read to celebrate Asian Heritage Month (May 2016)
One of Huffington Post’s 10 Must-Read Books By Asian-Canadian Authors (May 2016)
Chatelaine Magazine’s Pocket Book Club of the Month (May 2016)


Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety flings open a window onto a family — an entire world — largely unknown to non-Koreans… Torn between cultures, Mary grows up, defiant about choosing her future — and her men. The handsome English teacher who encouraged her writing or the engineering student who knows her Korean name and gives her a delicate origami swan? “Don’t worry, be happy,” went the infectious ’80s hit, a line that both mocks and honours the world so finely rendered in this explosive and heartfelt debut.”
Toronto Star

Choi’s journey into the world of a young immigrant girl caught between her family’s Korean values and breaking free to live her Canadian dream adds a colourful tile to our nation’s literary mosaic… Choi has demonstrated remarkable craftsmanship … and is certainly an author who is making her mark in Canadian literature.
– The Ottawa Review of Books

“Choi’s debut novel is an enjoyable coming-of-age story that celebrates the triumphs and mourns the losses in the life of a young woman finding her way as a Korean immigrant in Toronto in the 1980s… Choi’s novel is a gratifying read, a story clearly and honestly told.”
Publishers Weekly

“A strong balance of character and plot make this a compelling addition for coming-of-age collections.”
School Library Journal

“Choi’s book [is] a welcome breath of fresh air.”
NOW Magazine

Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is the kind of book for which many have been hungering for too long. The novel’s greatest strength is showing that what looks like passiveness from the outside (a girl stuck in an unlocked cage) is actually Mary’s slow-but-sure plotting toward her ultimate liberation.”
The Globe & Mail

“Lots of heart and candour… At its core, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is a thoughtful examination of the ties between women… Choi sifts through the forces that cause those ties to strain and even snap, and the hard work required to knit them together again.”
– National Post

“Choi’s insights into the dynamics of a Korean family trying to adapt to life in Canada gives Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety authenticity, transforming the novel into something more than just another immigrant’s story.”
Winnipeg Free Press

 A 2016 writer to watch.
– The Globe and Mail & CBC Books

 “Choi delicately negotiates the tightrope between a teenager’s dreams in the new world against the expectations of her immigrant family who, in honouring tradition, also know too well that the family’s future teeters on the precarious, even deadly livelihood of their convenience store. Told in taut but measured prose, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety invites the reader into the intimate life of Mary – or Yu-Rhee, her given Korean name – as she grows to womanhood, and explores the perennial questions of identity and home.”
– Denise Chong, author of The Concubine’s Children

 “Choi’s exploration of the traditions and secrets of the old world as they collide with the promise and demands of the new world makes this piercing and honest debut novel a must read. A deceptively clear and compelling voice signals Choi as a great new writer to watch.”
– Dennis Bock, author of Going Home Again

“A story of Korea and Canada, of parental sacrifice and filial duty, of inconceivable loss and budding literary desire – all set in a decade of Tiger Beat, Star Wars and Cyndi Lauper – Choi’s first novel is both sad and exhilarating. For me, the real beauty of this book is to show that, for many of us, writing may be our most-embracing and true home.”
– Kyo Maclear, author of Stray Love and The Letter Opener