bigWOWO rating: Literary Fiction Gold
Put this title on a list of surprisingly good books that I probably would not have picked up from just the summary. The story is told from the first-person perspective of a grad student whose sister disappears. When something bad happens to the narrator’s parents and they find themselves returning to Korea, the grad student must confront her family’s history over time and space. What follows is author Chung’s beautiful, lyrical description of a family in chaos that seeks to regain its footing.
It’s really quite wonderful how Chung weaves her story together, bringing Korean history and folklore together and turning it into a cohesive description–without losing the story. More fascinating and praiseworthy (especially for WOWO readers) is that Chung confronts racism head-on; there is no beating around the bush on either Asian American history or American racism. Chung also confronts the big elephant in the room that often influences modern Korean culture–Christianity. In the space of 293 pages, she covers most significant political and cultural issues in Korean American culture. (She doesn’t cover the one issue that WOWO readers like to obsess about, but if you’re a long-time reader of the comment section of this blog, you’re probably just as tired of it as I am.)
I highly recommend this book. There were some plot devices that I felt were predictable, but wow, what a great first novel. It’s exciting also because Chung is a young writer and probably has many more books to come.