Maija Rhee Devine tells this family’s story, which stretches from 1949 to 2005, in chapters that shift from the point of view of these four main characters. We see that Gui-yong, although he adores Eum-chun, feels he has no choice. The two women, Eum-chun and Soo-yang, have less choice, although both are ashamed and deeply angry that they have to share a man. Mi-na is made guilty because she does not have a penis and because of her, Soo-yang comes into her house.
|My buddies share C-ration candy.|
The novel “fills a gap in English-language fiction by painting an authentic portrait of Korea,” writes Kongdan Oh of the Brookings Institution. “The story’s characters are ordinary Koreans of their time—people with strong emotions, a commitment to family respect for tradition, and, less laudably, discriminatory attitudes toward. The dialogue is lively and crisp and the descriptions of daily life evoke the very sights, sounds, and smells of traditional Korea.” I found the book a moving and persuasive window into lives and times and places I knew very little about. Very worth reading.