This is a frank story told with vivid details. It deals with a lot of desire, hurt and shame. Sampson did a fantastic job with enlightening his readers not only with some of lesser know historical facts about Korea but also with some of the cultural ideals and prejudices that exist there. And in doing so, makes us look at our own failing norms here. A great piece literature that goes beyond what any historical essay or journalistic piece could do.
Meanwhile, over on the book's Goodreads page, author Maria Meindl posted this very touching and beautifully written review. In it, she says:
The book is also dense with issues. At first, the connection between the stories is not explicit, yet the juxtaposition tingles with irony. Michael, seeking to restore his lost pride in a foreign environment, is unaware of the violence unfolding in the rest of the story – and in his host country’s past. The result is a chilling meditation on sex and violence, oppression and love. When the characters finally meet, there are questions about the aftermath of trauma: when and how to talk about it – and ultimately who has the obligation, or right, to tell the story.
Anyway, great to see two more reviews out there in the world, and a big thanks to them both for their thoughts. I'll keep y'all posted if there are any more of these.