This acclaimed debut novel deserves all the great attention and accolades it’s received. Both a turn-the-page thriller and a literary investigation of a family’s survival from trauma, both recent and decades old, the writing elevates the story into deeper understandings of the nuances in family relationships and how they seep into every act of living. It is a refreshing change that Kyung’s Korean-ness is not the central focus of the story, and his being Korean is only incidentally part of the narrative, an essential part of his identity, yes, but not the main focus. Yun also manages to make an unlikeable protagonist sympathetic, which is difficult to do, and at times uncomfortable to read. I found myself rooting for him to step up and overcome his history, but of course, he couldn’t, just as all the others in the novel cannot deny how they were shaped because of their familial histories. Because the story is a thriller, I’m loath to reveal how the novel progresses, but it’s a high recommendation that will keep you stuck to it until the last page is turned.
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.