Friday, 5 October 2018

#WorldReads - Five Books From South Korea

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post as well-known as finding out how to join in the challenge.

Click the book titles or cover images to visit their Literary Flits book review pages. Or click the bookshop names to buy your own copy. (Bookshop links are affiliate links so I would earn a small commission from your purchase.)

This month we are going to South Korea!
Enjoy!

Nowhere To Be Found by Bae Suah

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

A nameless narrator passes through her life, searching for meaning and connection in experiences she barely feels. For her, time and identity blur, and all action is reaction. She can't quite understand what motivates others to take life seriously enough to focus on anything--for her existence is a loosely woven tapestry of fleeting concepts. From losing her virginity to mindless jobs and a splintered, unsupportive family, the lessons learned have less to do with the reality we all share and more to do with the truth of the imagination, which is where the narrator focuses to discover herself.


Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Yeongdo, Korea 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife. Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story. Through eight decades and four generations, Pachinko is an epic tale of family, identity, love, death and survival.


Meeting With My Brother by Yi Mun-Yol


The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Yi Mun-yol's Meeting with My Brother is narrated by a middle-aged South Korean professor, also named Yi, whose father abandoned his family and defected to the North at the outbreak of the Korean War. Many years later, despite having spent most of his life under a cloud of suspicion as the son of a traitor, Yi is prepared to reunite with his father. Yet before a rendezvous on the Chinese border can be arranged, his father dies. Yi then learns for the first time that he has a half-brother, whom he chooses to meet instead. As the two confront their shared legacy, their encounter takes a surprising turn. Meeting with My Brother represents the political and psychological complexity of Koreans on both sides of the border, offering a complex yet poignant perspective on the divisions between the two countries. Through a series of charged conversations, Yi explores the nuances of reunification, both political and personal. This semiautobiographical account draws on Yi s own experience of growing up with an absent father who defected to the North and the stigma of family disloyalty.


The Good Son by You-jeong Jeong

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

When Yu-jin wakes up covered in blood, and finds the body of his mother downstairs, he decides to hide the evidence and pursue the killer himself. Then young women start disappearing in his South Korean town. Who is he hunting? And why does the answer take him back to his brother and father who lost their lives many years ago.

The Good Son is inspired by a true story. 


Princess Bari by Hwang Sok-Yong

The Book Depository
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

In a drab North Korean city, a seventh daughter is born to a couple longing for a son. Abandoned hours after her birth, she is eventually rescued by her grandmother. The old woman names the child Bari, after a legend telling of a forsaken princess who undertakes a quest for an elixir that will bring peace to the souls of the dead. As a young woman, frail, brave Bari escapes North Korea and takes refuge in China before embarking on a journey across the ocean in the hold of a cargo ship, seeking a better life. She lands in London, where she finds work as a masseuse. Paid to soothe her clients' aching bodies, she discovers that she can ease their more subtle agonies as well, having inherited her beloved grandmother's uncanny ability to read the pain and fears of others. Bari makes her home amongst other immigrants living clandestinely. She finds love in unlikely places, but also suffers a series of misfortunes that push her to the limits of sanity. Yet she has come too far to give in to despair.


That's it for October's WorldReads from South Korea. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of South Korean-authored books! If you fancy buying any of the five I have suggested, clicking through the links from this blog to do so would mean I earn a small commission payment.

You can join in my WorldReads Challenge at any time! Simply read 1 or more books from a different country each month, write a post about it/them, grab the button below and add it to your post. Don't forget to pop back here and Comment your link so I can visit!




Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML


If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited' America, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Iraq, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

In November I will be highlighting five books by Jamaican authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!

11 comments:

  1. I used to read a lot of Asian fiction and true life stories but it's been years since I ventured into that genre!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved discovering Korean culture through these books. I hardly knew anything about the country before

      Delete
  2. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Pachinko. I don’t know if I’ll have time to read it. Isn’t it really long? I don’t remember. The Good Son sounds kind of awesome, too.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pachinko is long, yes. I saw it on NetGalley where I never check how many pages books have! I probably wouldn't have chosen it had I known, but it's well worth the time investment

      Delete
  3. I love this idea so much. Although I don't have the time to participate myself, I think this is a great idea for a challenge for my Introduction to Literature students. Thanks for the idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, I'll be interested to know which books your students discover - especially if they are from countries I haven't blogged yet!

      Delete
  4. I love the idea of this post. I acutally have Pachinko on my pile and the Good Son has me curious as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pachinko is worthwhile but a bit of a slog. The Good Son is very dark!

      Delete
  5. Princess Bari and The Good Son and both books I'm dying to read! I think I may take the plunge in 2019 with my Moody Reading Challenge... Thanks for sharing these Stephanie I love Korea! <3

    ReplyDelete