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.
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 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.”