Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review of Drifting House by Krys Lee

Drifting House
By: Krys Lee

Amazon Summery:

An unflinching portrayal of the Korean immigrant experience from an extraordinary new talent in fiction.
Spanning Korea and the United States, from the postwar era to contemporary times, Krys Lee's stunning fiction debut, Drifting House, illuminates a people torn between the traumas of their collective past and the indignities and sorrows of their present.
In the title story, children escaping famine in North Korea are forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to survive. The tales set in America reveal the immigrants' unmoored existence, playing out in cramped apartments and Koreatown strip malls. A makeshift family is fractured when a shaman from the old country moves in next door. An abandoned wife enters into a fake marriage in order to find her kidnapped daughter.
In the tradition of Chang-rae Lee's Native Speaker and Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, Drifting Houseis an unforgettable work by a gifted new writer.

My Review:

Drifting House is a collection of short stories depicting Korean life and change in Korea as well as America. The stories offer an interesting glimpse into the thoughts as minds of people struggling to come to grips with the changes that their worlds are going through. The stories are all about different characters. The only connecting thread besides their nationality is that each main character is going through either a drastic change in their life or the trying to live through their world changing around them. 
I enjoyed reading the various stories. It was interesting to get a look inside the Korean culture and how it drove the characters to make their individual choices, even as the culture itself was evolving. I also enjoyed the author’s descriptions that brought the world of each character to life. From the cold mountains of Drifting House, the title story, the harsh reality of homelessness in the city of Salaryman to California in A Temporary Marriage.
This isn’t a kid’s book; it deals with harsh themes and ideas. Each story had its own unique twist, some more twisted than others. Also each story, while moving, is at its core heartbreaking as well. They are also thought provoking and I think in their own way can help to foster a better cultural understanding.
The only issue I had with the book was that many times there were Korean phrases or references that I wasn’t sure what they meant. The author does little to explain them, and I think that even a small description of what the terms meant would have only added to the richness of the stories. 
Overall it’s a beautiful book. Beautifully written with heartbreaking stories that make you want to be able to save them from their harsh realities or sometimes just from themselves. 

****In compliance with FTC guidelines, I'm disclosing that I received this book for free through GoodReads First Reads. ****
(I recommend everybody should go check out all the awesome first read giveaways they have!)

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