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Posts Tagged ‘I’ll be Right There’

img_20181025_152347762.jpgShe wore the same clothes every summer for four years. But the next summer, she took them out to discover that they were threadbare and unwearable. The sleeves were frayed. She took them to a seamstress and asked her to make her a new set in the exact same style from the exact same fabric. The tailor examined the frayed clothes and said she could make the same style but the fabric was no longer available. So my sister left. I told her the tailor could make her something better, but she said there was no point if it wasn’t the same fabric … That’s what she was like. 

Miru, fictional character in the novel I’ll be Right There by Kyung-Shook Shin. Translated from Korean by Sora Kim-Russell (Other Press, New York)

I’ll be Right There takes place in Seoul, South Korea in an unidentified era but the author says she was thinking 1980s, a time when university students were protesting in the streets for democracy.  She chose not to be specific so young readers could place themselves in the narrative.

The story centers on four students, who are friends and are lost in their youth, affected by the tumultuous times. A bit opaque and most certainly depressed, the characters are nevertheless compelling. They remind me of (British author) Anita Brookner characters, people who slowly plod through life and seem content to go nowhere.  Much of the action in the story comes as the characters walk the city, which gives the reader a nice feel for Seoul.

Kyung-Shook Shin is an award winning author in South Korea, having published seven  novels and eight short story collections. She is among the few Korean writers translated  and published outside South Korea as well as the first woman and first Korean to be awarded the Man Asian Literary Prize for best Asian novel either written in English or translated.

 

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