Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Publisher: Random House Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-35919-3 (0-307-35919-0)
Pub Date: April 5, 2011
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You will never think of your mother the same way after you read this book.
Already an international sensation and a bestseller that has sold over 1.5 million copies in the author's native Korea, Please Look After Mom is a stunning, deeply moving story of a family's search for their missing mother — and their discovery of the desires, heartaches and secrets they never realized she harbored within.
When sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station, and vanishes, their children are consumed with loud recriminations, and are awash in sorrow and guilt. As they argue over the "Missing" flyers they are posting throughout the city — how large of a reward to offer, the best way to phrase the text — they realize that none of them have a recent photograph of Mom. Soon a larger question emerges: do they really know the woman they called Mom?
Told by the alternating voices of Mom's daughter, son, her husband and, in the shattering conclusion, by Mom herself, the novel pieces together, Rashomon-style, a life that appears ordinary but is anything but.
This is a mystery of one mother that reveals itself to be the mystery of all our mothers: about her triumphs and disappointments and about who she is on her own terms, separate from who she is to her family. If you have ever been a daughter, a son, a husband or a mother, Please Look After Mom is a revelation — one that will bring tears to your eyes.
FINALIST 2011 - Man Asian Literary Prize
FINALIST 2013 - IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
“Shin’s prose, intimate and hauntingly spare . . . powerfully conveys grief’s bewildering immediacy. . . . Who is the missing woman? In this raw tribute to the mysteries of motherhood, only Mom knows.”
— The New York Times
“A suspenseful, haunting, achingly lovely novel about the hidden lives, wishes, struggles and dreams of those we think we know best. . . . Just like family, this novel also delivers ultimate gifts: moments of gorgeous lucidity, love that knows no depth, beauty in the details of many long-held memories.”
— The Seattle Times
“Haunting. . . . Fervent . . . but also sinuous and elusive. . . . Details, unembellished and unsentimental, are the individual cells that form this novel’s beating heart. . . . The novel’s language—so formal in its simplicity—bestows a grace and solemnity on childhood scenes. . . . With each description, the relentless tide of the past erodes the yielding ground of the present to reveal the contours of one woman’s life.”
— The Boston Globe
"Please Look After Mom is an authentic, moving story that brings to vivid life the deep connections that lie at the core of Korean culture. But it also speaks beautifully to an urgent issue of our time: migration, and how the movement of people from small towns and villages to big cities can cause heartbreak and even tragedy. This is a tapestry of family life that will be read all over the world. I loved this book."
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
"Suspenseful and moving… Cleverly structured and brimming with secrets and revelations, Please Look After Mom is a powerful and memorable read."
—Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and Brother, I'm Dying
"Kyung-sook Shin has managed some kind of alchemy in this novel. Weaving together four vivid voices - of daughter, son, husband and mother, each with the immediacy of a whispered confession - she has created a heartbreaking family mystery. Here is a deeply felt journey into a culture foreign to many - yet with a theme that is universal in its appeal. A terrific novel that stayed with me long after I'd finished its final, haunting pages. This is a real discovery."
—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
"Direct and affecting… An intimate window into the history and custom of the country."
—Janice Y. K. Lee, author of The Piano Teacher
KYUNG-SOOK SHIN grew up in a remote village in South Korea, the fourth child and oldest daughter of six. Her parents were farmers who could not afford to send her to high school, so at sixteen she moved to Seoul, where her older brother lived. She worked in an electronics plant while attending night school, and published her first collection of stories in 1988, at age twenty-five. She is the author of twelve previous works of fiction, and has been honoured with the 1996 Manhae Literature Prize, the 1997 Dong-in Literature Prize and the 2001 Isang Literary Prize. Beginning in August, she will be spending a year in New York as a visiting professor at Columbia University.
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