Catherine Cho: What I’m Looking For

Actively looking for: reading group and literary fiction; voice-driven novels; high-concept and speculative fiction; psychological suspense; love stories, family dramas, magical realism; narrative non-fiction in science, social issues, psychology, history, lifestyle; digital bestsellers across all genres of commercial fiction.


I am actively building my list in fiction and non-fiction. I love discovering new voices – I’m passionate about storytelling, and the way that stories can shape the world.

I’m looking for:

*Upmarket and literary fiction, I am drawn to character-driven and voice-driven stories with a strong sense of place. I love novels that explore relationships, particularly relationships within families. I loved Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, Writers and Lovers by Lily King. I also loved Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie, both of which are ambitious and encompass so much in their stories. I’m a long-time admirer of Alice Munro and the precision of her prose, the way she creates a fully realized story within a few sentences.

My favourite writers in this area include Elizabeth Strout, Donna Tartt, Jennifer Egan, Anne Tyler, Lionel Shriver, Ann Patchett, Curtis Sittenfeld and David Nicholls.

*Writing with a distinctive, unique voice. I loved The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, A History of Love by Nicole Krauss and Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I admire Ottessa Moshfegh.

*Psychological suspense and domestic noir. I am drawn to voice-driven suspense and psychological thrillers with unexpected twists. I’m looking for narratives with a strong sense of voice, writers like Liane Moriarty and Gillian Flynn.

*High concept and genre-defying novels – I am drawn to novels with a unique premise, novels like Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffnegger and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.  I want to be transported by a story, and I have a particular fondness for time travel stories and anything involving magical realism. If there’s an element of darkness, that always intrigues me – ghosts, spirits, witches – stories that find magic in the ordinary. My dream would be to find something like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. My favourite writers in this area include Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Claire North and Kate Atkinson, they transcend genre and combine beautiful prose with strong stories.

Ultimately, what I’m looking for in fiction is a good story – a story that transports me, that moves me. I will always remember a book that makes me cry.

*Non-fiction – my taste in non-fiction is broad. I read non-fiction to learn about the world, and I’m always looking for something that can give me a unique perspective on a topic. I once heard that in fiction, we seek the truth, but that non-fiction begins with the truth. I’m particularly looking for non-fiction on topics of science, history, philosophy, social issues, true crime, lifestyle, memoir.

I’m looking for books about fascinating topics, particularly those written by experts in their fields. I want to find books that reveal something about the world or inspire people to live their lives differently. I admire writers like Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Atul Gawande and Yuval Harari. I’m looking for powerful narratives, something like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee or Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. This includes memoir, such as Wild by Cheryl Strayed or When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi. I also enjoy essay collections, writers like Jia Tolentino, Leslie Jamison or Emilie Pine.

My Favourite Novels:

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Us by David Nicholls

My Favourite Non-Fiction

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Paula by Isabel Allende

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Sapiens by Yuval Harari

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Quiet by Susan Cain

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

Just Kids by Patti Smith