The accolades for this fine, epic novel are deserved. In her second novel, author Min Jin Lee follows members of a family (and many equally fascinating ancillary characters) from the Japanese Occupation era in Korea, to the Korean diaspora in Japan, up to 1989. She manages this expansive timespan through third-person omniscient voice, allowing a kind of economy in the storytelling that would otherwise be limited to structural concerns. It’s both a feat of intricate character development and a rapid-moving plot that makes one love the people, even the antagonist, and live through a hundred fast-moving stories that kept pulling at me long after all the pages were turned. Much is written about her inspiration and about the story itself, so I leave this post brief, with a final urging to read this stunning book.
I have been inspired, once more, to re-learn my native tongue.
Last year my husband and I hosted a wonderful thanksgiving with friends and my mom.
I Just Can’t With This
Ever since my children were born, I have lost the ability to watch anything other than comedies.
A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee
Rich language describes a Korean-Japanese-American former WWII medic living quietly in Connecticut in a small provincial town.
Quiet Odyssey: A Pioneer Korean Woman in America, by Mary Paik Lee
Born in 1900, Lee’s aristocratic Christian family fled Korea in 1905, fearful of the plight of their famiy with Japan’s growing political influence and imminent colonial takeover.
Jungsoon, by Myosik Park
A fictional account of two women who fight through years of personal and national devastation, from the Japanese occupation through the Korean War, surviving with tenacity.
Century of the Tiger: One Hundred Years of Korean Culture in America 1903-2003, by Jenny Ryun Foster et al
This issue of the Manoa Journal is a centennial celebration of literature of Korean Americans.
The Grass Roof by Younghill Kang
Autobiographical novel of a scholar’s son’s coming of age in small village during the Japanese occupation, though that is felt with some distance.
The Interpreter by Suki Kim
A Korean American novel and mystery about 24-year old Suzy Park who is a court interpreter estranged from her past.