Thursday, March 10, 2016

G665 Book Review of My Son's Girlfriend by Jung Mi-Kyung

General Information:

Name of Book: My Son's Girlfriend/ Nae adul ui yonin

ISBN: 978 1 56478 910 5

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Year it was published: 2013 (Original year 2008)

Summary:

At once an ironic portrayal of contemporary Korea and an intimate exploration of heartache, alienation, and nostalgia, this collection of seven short stories has earned the author widespread critical acclaim. With empathy and an overarching melancholy that is at times tinged with sarcasm, but always deeply meaningful, Jung explores the ambition and chaos of urban life, the lives of hte lost and damaged souls it creates, and the subtle shades of love found among them.

Author: Jung Mi-Kyung (Translated by Yu Young-Nan)

About the Author:

Yu Young-Nan
She lives in Seoul. She has translated numerous Korean novels into English, including Park Wan-suh's Who Ate Up all the Shinga? and Yom Sang-Seop's Three Generations.

Jung Mi-Kyung
She is one of the most distinguished writers of contemporary Korean literature. She attended Ewha Woman's University, and was the recipient of hte prestigious Yi Sang Literary Award in 2006. She is the author of the novel The Strange Sorrow of Wonderland.

1. I Love You

One Sentence Summary:

Told from a young man's point of view in first person narrative. He and a woman, Y, are dating on and off d, and at one point, in order to get ahead, the young man convinces Y to be his boss's mistress.

2. The Bison

One Sentence Summary:

A man, Myeong-Jo, is friends with a woman named Su-hye who happens to be an artist. One day Myengo-Jo goes to a gallery opening and sees the bison that Su-hye was working on, which causes him to reminisce about the friendship he shared with Su-hye as well as Ha-yun who has passed away a year ago and was Su-hye's husband.

3. In the Wind

One Sentence Summary:

In a first person narrative, a woman and her husband, Yeong-Jo, are seeking infertility treatment. Between the waiting period, the woman contemplates whether or not she and Yeong-Jo want the baby; recalls her relationship with a man prior to Yeong-jo, and of the issues she has at work and with her mother.

4. My Son's Girlfriend

One sentence summary:

In a first person narrative, a wealthy woman's son, Hyeon, is dating a girl that's poor. While becoming friends with the girl (Do-Ran) the mother begins to examine and reflect on the classicism between the wealthy and the poor.

5. Cicadas

One sentence summary:

In a first person narrative a man is constantly haunted by the endless sound of cicadas and can't find someone to help him cure it. While trying to figure out the problem, he begins to reflect on his studies in German literature and why he majored in it. One day he meets a young woman who has problems of her own.

6. Signal Red

One Sentence Summary:

In a first person narrative, a woman is friends with a man named K who is blind to the color red and has recently passed away. The narrator reminisces how she and K met staging a play and even listens to K's history which includes relationships with his stepmother, and ultimately its up to her to make sense of the puzzle.

7. Night, Be Divided! 

One Sentence Summary:

In a first person narrative, a man comes to Oslo to meet up with a friend named P. While there, he hears about P's new project that is designed to be immunity for the soul named Lovepia. While staying, he remembers the friendship he had shared with P and M in the past and he also learns about P's dark secret and how M is trying to cope with life.

Opinion:

I feel that the short stories were mostly focused on borders or on things that people are unable to reach in their lifetimes. I also feel as if the author seems to be bucking tradition for traditional or hopeful endings and instead she is giving the readers endings that they don't want or expect. While some of the stories are love stories and even have a love triangle between some of the characters, I don't feel as if they are focused on love but instead are more focused on opposite forces and whether or not these forces are capable of overcoming the impossible odds.

The book was given to me for an honest review by Dalkey Archive 

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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