Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Book Review - Drifting House
About the Book
In the tradition of Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, gifted new writer Krys Lee’s DRIFTING HOUSE (Penguin; 978-0-143-12293-7; On-sale: December 24, 2012; $15.00; available as an e-book) is an unforgettable work exploring love, identity, war, and the homes we make for ourselves.
In DRIFTING HOUSE, Lee portrays nuanced, haunting characters struggling with war, religion, and the secrets and complexities of damaged families. She illuminates the difficulties of living an unmoored existence in America and she traverses the collective sorrow brought on by a legacy of political strife. Weaving intricate tales of family and love, abandonment and loss, in Korea and the US, Lee’s deeply moving stories are about people whose lives are threatened by civil war, military dictatorships, and the psychological fallout that tore Korea apart for decades. In the title story, “Drifting House,” children escaping famine in North Korea are forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to survive. In “The Salaryman” a middle class, middle-aged man toils in the wake of South Korea’s financial crisis, and in “The Goose Father” a man deserted by his family stumbles upon love unexpectedly. “A Small Sorrow” tells of the confidence and inspiration to control her life that a painter gains after striking up a friendship with one of her husband’s many lovers. In America, the stories are set against the backdrop of the cramped, shared apartments and vacant strip malls of Koreatowns, where makeshift families are cobbled together from fragmented pasts to forge new identities.
In turns tragic, powerful, and hopeful, DRIFTING HOUSE is a collection that will linger with you long after you have finished reading it.
About the Author
Krys Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea, raised in California and Washington, and studied in the United States and England. She was a finalist for Best New American Voices in 2006, received a special mention in the 2012 Pushcart Prize XXXVI, and her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Narrative magazine, Granta online, California Quarterly, Asia Weekly, the Guardian, and has articles forthcoming in Condé Nast Traveller (UK) and the New Statesman. She lives in Seoul with intervals in San Francisco.
My Take on the Book
This is a powerful book of short stories that will leave you spellbound and asking for more in the end. Why you may ask? For me it was the sadness and the power of the tragedy that was playing out in each story that entranced me. Yet, I know that for others there will be other draws. The author does an amazing job at creating a world that is tangible within each of the nine stories. By reading these stories you are transported between the here and now and the depravity of famine, the battlefields of war and love and so much more. I was very amazed at all of the emotions that were shared by the author as well as the ones that are elicited from you as a reader while you are reading and experiences the stories themselves. This was a strong book that I would encourage all to read!
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