Andover to Welcome New Writer-in-Residence Paul Yoon, Author of “Once the Shore”

A young author of short stories and an alumnus of Phillips Exeter Academy, Paul Yoon PEA ’98 will join the Andover community next year as the next Writer-in-Residence.

At Andover, Yoon will teach two Senior electives in English and begin writing a new novel, which he hopes to finish drafting by the end of his two-year term.

“I’m looking forward to being part of a wonderful community. I’m looking forward to meeting brilliant minds who love to read and imagine and think of stories and how to bring words together to create something beautiful and powerful—an image you’ll remember forever, a line of a poem that can tap the heart,” said Yoon.

Yoon is the author of a short story collection published in 2009 entitled “Once the Shore,” which was named a “New York Times” Notable Book.

His first novel, ”Snow Hunters,” will be released in August. It tells the fictional story of a North Korean war refugee who sought a new home in Brazil.

A search committee of Instructors in English—Jeffrey Domina, Patricia Har, Kate McQuade, Kevin O’Connor and Paul Tortorella—selected 10 semifinalists from the pool of 134 applicants for the position.

The committee then invited three of the 10 to on campus for interviews. Temba Maqubela, Dean of Faculty, selected Yoon from the finalists to succeed Lewis Robinson, current Writer-in-Residence, at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.

Domina said the applicant pool included “all kinds of writers from a great many backgrounds with a wide range of experience as writers and teachers.”

“Paul stood out as an exceptional teacher-writer. The committee members loved his stories and appreciated his experience, and we saw in him a warm, gifted teacher. We’re thrilled to be able to welcome him to the community,” he added.

Yoon said, “When I saw that Andover was looking for a Writer-in-Residence, I was immediately drawn to a community and an environment that fosters this idea of mentorship. It’s what feels the most rewarding to me. And knowing how much my mentors back in the day gave to me—knowing all that, I want to now give back.”

“If one student at Andover falls in love with creative writing while I’m there, then I know that I will I have done a good thing in this life,” he continued.

Inspired by his love of reading, Yoon began writing seriously when he was 20.

“I would write every day in college on a busted typewriter because I thought it was romantic to do that, not realizing how slow and impractical it was to do so,” said Yoon. “I’m pretty sure I could’ve done better in school if I wasn’t so obsessed with writing fiction. It was that one thing I wanted to perfect.”

“Reading and writing are inseparable in my eyes. You can’t be a writer without being a reader. And so I always say that I think of myself as a reader first and foremost. I may not have that many more books in me to write. That could be a cold, hard reality. But I will forever have books to read and cherish and carry with me wherever I go. And that is a beautiful, profound thing,” said Yoon.

Yoon’s book “Once the Shore” has won a National Book Foundation, a “5 Under 35” Award, the Asian American Literary Award for Fiction and a Best Book of the Year award from “The Los Angeles Times,” “Publisher’s Weekly” and other newspapers.

Yoon’s stories have also appeared in many literary magazines, including “Ploughshares,” “The Best American Short Stories,” and “The O. Henry Prize Stories.

”Yoon was born in New York City and majored in English at Wesleyan University after graduating from Exeter. His father came to America from South Korea in the 1970s to pursue a career as a doctor.

After college, Yoon taught at Bennington College in Vermont, Sarah Lawrence College in New York and Grub Street, a Boston-based creative writing center.

Yoon looks forward to living at Andover and plans to get a pet dog to join him on campus.

Yoon currently lives in Baltimore, Md. with his fiancée, fellow fiction writer Laura van den Berg.