Published August 11, 2020 by Rebecca Goldfine

Kyubin Kim ’22 Interns for LA Review of Books

English major Kyubin Kim was drawn to the Los Angeles Review of Books for its mission to enrich the arts, especially on the West Coast.
Kyubin Kim
Kyubin Kim is one of more than 100 Bowdoin students who have a funded internship from Bowdoin's Career Exploration and Development office to work with an organization of their choice this summer. These funds provide a living wage to students if their employer, often a nonprofit, is unable to pay its interns.

Having grown up in East Bay, near Silicon Valley, Kim said it's been exciting to be part of the nonprofit's work this summer. "They are so Los Angeles-focused, versus all the publishing houses in New York," she said. "The West Coast gets Silicon Valley and entertainment, and LA is known for being shallow and vapid! So it's really nice that they try to create this community."

Besides publishing a print journal and online reviews, essays, and interviews about literature, culture, and the arts, the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) also offers public arts programs to support editors, publishers, and writers.  

As a social media intern for LARB, one of Kim's roles is to help promote its annual publishing workshop for underrepresented writers. Along with covering high-profile authors, LARB tries to support emerging writers who might be overlooked by mainstream publishers. (In this way, Kim's summer experience is similar to that of fellow funded intern Franny Weed ’21.)

She's also worked on showcasing independent bookstores, which have been hit hard by the pandemic. "I put a lot of focus on Black-owned, BIPOC-owned, immigrant-owned, and bilingual booksellers," she said, saying she finds this aspect of her internship particularly fulfilling. 

And she's contributing her own writing to the LA Review and learning to copyedit. "I feel like I'm getting a broad spectrum of experiences working for a nonprofit, from editorial writing to grant writing, along with marketing, membership maintenance, and social media. I'm so happy that this internship allows me to explore everything, rather than sticking me into social media marketing and saying, 'This is your life!'"

(Another perk: Because LARB extends deeply into LA culture, Kim has had some fun online brushes with celebrities. "Rainn Wilson from The Office tagged me in a comment!" she said.)

As an English major, Kim is used to writing long analytical papers for her courses, so her summer job has required a bit of an adjustment as she whittles her thoughts down to 280 or so characters. "I'm always thinking about hashtags," she said, with a smile. But she sees her current job as giving her the opportunity to be inventive and lighthearted. "It blurs the line between work and play," she said.

Kyubin Kim's Academic journey at Bowdoin

The rising junior has had an interesting path to her current passion for literature and publishing. She arrived at Bowdoin thinking she would be pre-med. Now she's co-editor of the literary college journal, The Foundationalist, and an English major with dreams of entering the publishing industry to "influence the global impact of literature." 

What changed her mind was a first-year seminar she took on prostitution in the Western culture with Associate Professor of German Jill Smith. "It opened my eyes to what studying the humanities could be like," she said. "We studied so many different media—visual arts and film—and I learned to do my first film analysis. We read books, including poetry. I was exposed to so many different mediums and literary and artistic forms beyond what I was used to."

Since then, many other classes have made a deep impression on her, including The Woman's Film, with Aviva Briefel, Bowdoin's Edward Little Professor of the English Language and Literature and Cinema Studies, and Asian American Literature, with Belinda Kong, who is Bowdon's John F. and Dorothy H. Magee Associate Professor of Asian Studies and English.

"Prof. Kong's class helped me value Asian American writing, literature and history. Before that all the authors I read and valued were white, male, and old. As a writer myself, a lot of my work is inspired by my Asian American identity, whether it be creative nonfiction about my life, or the reviews I write about Asian American literature and films."