“Valley of the Moon”
by Paul Yoon
from the July 3, 2023 issue of The New Yorker

The author of two novels and two short story collections, Paul Yoon has has been a critically acclaimed author from his earliest book, his 2009 short story collection Once the Shore. This is, I believe, his first story to appear in The New Yorker. I believe it will turn out to be a story from his forthcoming collection The Hive and the Honey.

Here is how it begins:

Two years later, he left the settlement.

He took the bus heading north and then hitchhiked on the back of a repurposed U.S. Army truck that was filled with others like him who all said the same thing: they were heading home. They all said this knowing that there wasn’t much left for them to go home to. Still, it felt good to say this to one another, to say without saying that they had survived, and as the truck made stops they exchanged cartons of cigarettes, small sacks of grain, shoelaces, pieces of cloth. Then they asked one another where home was and how far from the border they would be living. They asked what refugee settlement others had found themselves in or how many settlements and for how long or if they had been in one at all. They asked one another what they had done before the war, and they asked one another their names and how old they were.

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