27 May 2011

엄마를 부탁해 / Please Look After Mom


I read this book today. And I literally cried my way through it. At several points, I just flat-out bawled. This universal story about the great power and sacrifice of mothers--and Korean mothers of that sadness-ridden generation in particular--is both heartwarming and heart-wrenching.

Even from the literary point of view, it's excellent. I found the "you" second-person narrative remarkable. It works so well. The author also does a good job of developing the characters, each with their own quirks and habits and personalities and stories. And although the whole book is told as if the narrator is talking to you about what you did, each chapter is distinct in its voice and story. First, the story is told with the elder unmarried daughter who is a successful writer. Then, the oldest son and then the husband. Finally, the "Mom" herself in a half-spirit (bird?) form who also dwells at her youngest daughter's place for a while. It comes full circle and closes in the epilogue with the voice of the eldest daughter.

This story...I will remember forever. I hear the translation by Kim Chi-Young (김시영) is done well too, so I recommend it for everyone in the world. I was going to read the English version as well to pick up a few translation lessons, but I can't bring myself to go through the tears again. I did notice, though, that the English version revealed the names of the cities and the eldest daughter's boyfriend.

The English version here on Amazon.

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