Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sad Peninsula update: Early reviews!

So I thought I'd share a few advance reviews of Sad Peninsula that have been making the rounds over the last little while. Here's hoping there'll be reason to do this several times over the coming months, but I'll try to group them in bunches so I don't hijack the blog with each one individually (if it comes to that!).

Up first is Stephen Knight's review from the July/August issue of Quill and Quire. In his piece, Knight says that the novel handles its take on both Korean culture and Seoul's expat nightlife well, and states: "The fact that readers are so emotionally engaged in discovering the answers to [novel's] questions indicates that the author has done a lot right here." It was great to see the book get reviewed in this long-standing industry magazine, as I've been reviewing for it myself for a number of years now.

The book blogger behind the site "Whatifknits" ran a review of Sad Peninsula a couple of days ago under the headline "The Necessity of Reading that Hurts." Here, the reviewer praises the novel but notes several times that it's a "painful" read - painful in a necessary way. She says, "While this is a painful novel to read, it is also a very worthwhile read. The history of the 'comfort women' needs to be told and retold precisely because it is a painful history, the sort that societies attempt to wish away through forgetting ... [T]his kind of cross-cultural understanding, the placing of one’s self into the experiences of others, is essential to a world in which sexual violence may someday be eradicated."

A less favourable review appeared a few weeks ago on the Brenda Agaro book blog. Ms. Agaro places a series of "trigger warnings" at the top of her piece about the novel and expresses some concerns about the sexual violence described in the book and about Michael's likability as a character. While her strongest criticisms are based on a couple of factual inaccuracies (Michael doesn't successfully kiss Jin on their first date; and it's Jin, not Michael, who expresses concerns with her wearing traditional Korean hanbok clothing), she does make some valid points throughout her thoughtful review. While she only gave the book 2 stars on GoodReads (where the review is cross-posted), I do appreciate Ms. Agaro taking the time to read the novel and share her insights with her audience.

That's it for now. Just a reminder that the book is officially on sale September 6 and I'll be doing a number of reading throughout the fall and early winter. See my events page for the latest.


  1. Mark Sampson,

    Thank you so much for mentioning my review of your novel, SAD PENINSULA. After reading your thoughts, going over what I pointed out in my review, and rereading the scenes in the book, I have to say that you are correct about the factual inaccuracies. I was reading those parts wrong, and for that I apologize. I will alter my review soon.

    Best wishes and thank you!

  2. Hi Brenda,

    You're very welcome. And thank you, once again, for your thoughtful and detailed review of the book. A number of people have spoken positively about your piece since I posted about it, and I appreciate your efforts and your honesty in your dealings with the novel.

    Very warmly,