Video: Krys Lee Reads from “Drifting House” and two reviews

Krys Lee (by Mat Douma)

Krys Lee (by Mat Douma)

All the good news about Shin Kyung-sook has temporarily overshadowed the other great recent news in Korean fiction, Krys Lee’s incredibly moving and sometimes depressing^^ Drifting House. So, with an eye towards getting back on a more general track, here is a 13 minute Vimeo in which Lee reads the last scene from The Pastor’s Son. This excerpt gives a pretty good idea of the overall quality and tone of the larger book.

Krys Lee: Why There Are Words Literary Reading Series, March 8 2012, Unspeakable from Why There Are Words on Vimeo.


Here is a short interview with Lee from the Divining Wand which focuses on North Korea and Lee’s experience with NK refugees.

And two reviews.

The first, from, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, calls the book “gimlet-eyed” which is certainly correct and a description I wish I’d come up with.^^ The review is by Brian Deutsch, at one time a bedrock contributor to the Expatosphere in Korea, and it concludes:

The collection is at its best in exploring the duality of past and future, of memory and hope. And it is often at its best. At times, however, the collection becomes jarring, heavy with too many Korean touchstones, name-checking vocabulary and historical figures, as if stretching for authenticity or Koreanness. This tendency does mirror her characters’ own ambivalence, but risks confining Ms. Lee to an enclave of Asian-American literature. In spite of those occasional detours, Krys Lee’s debut is nonetheless insightful, a part tragic and part nostalgic perspective of modern Korea.

The other review is from the Guardian, which calls the work, “Korean short stories that understand the sadness of history.” The review is mostly laudatory and notes:
The two finest stories in the collection, “Drifting House” and “The Believer”, achieve extraordinary feats within a few pages – murder, madness, haunting, loss of faith and more. You can forgive a woman for shattering silence with shrieks when she tells you that “The ward for the criminally insane was as sad as plastic Jesus souvenirs.”
Did I mention you should buy this book?^^



3 thoughts on “Video: Krys Lee Reads from “Drifting House” and two reviews

  1. Thanks for the mention, Charles, and thanks for staying on top of English-language publications new and old. It’s interesting to follow the growth of Lee’s . . . following. It was certainly an anticipated release: I was asked to do the review back in October for February publication.

  2. Brian,

    LOL.. you’ll notice I put you above the Guardian.^^

    I think this “advance notice” is a new thing that is only happening as Western houses publish Korean fiction…

    It happened a bit for Kim Young-ha. It was on overdrive for Shin Kyung-sook, for whom it seemed to be clearly known that best-sellerdom was imminent. Krys Lee is the same, though her English skills make her a much savvier ‘face’ as well.

    I’ll pop you an email in a day or two, as some of your other comments interest me for different reasons…

  3. Just received the hardcover copy from the Post-Gazette . . . a few months late.

    Did you send an email? No rush, but in the past I’ve had people email me only to be discovered weeks later in my spam folder. I didn’t want you to think I was being a bad penpal.

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