Monday, February 22, 2010

What We're Reading

I just read The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim. Set in Japanese-occupied Korea, it is a fictionalized account of the life of the author's mother. Anyone who has lived in Korea will find it will bring back memories. It will also be of interest for those who like to read about other cultures (such as books by Amy Tan, Gail Tsukiyama, and Lisa See).

Part of what makes this such an engaging read is the detailed and accurate portrayal of village and religious leadership and family hierarchies, as I remember them from when I lived there. Village elders played a big part in everyday decision-making. The Calligrapher's Daughter also gives glimpses into what remained of court life in Korea, the bitterness of the people who had the Japanese language and a revised history imposed upon them, and the risks they took to secretly teach traditional Korean culture at home. The vivid descriptions bring to life the houses, the food, and the clothing of the era. The story has touches of humor in some of the characters, too.

This fabulous read is Eugenia Kim's first novel. I look forward to more books by this author!

No comments: