Chung's writing style reminds me of a fine painting where every brush stroke is laid down with purpose and control. Discipline is a word that comes to mind. Restraint is another. Nothing that is written is meant to be taken lightly. Every word has a job. Nothing extraneous is exposed. It is a style that suits the book's focus perfectly.
This is, after all, a novel about a family that communicates via stories, little parables whose meanings are not explicit but instead are couched inside the listener's mind. Maybe it's not the most efficient method of communicating. It's certainly not the most effective since it requires cooperation between the person relating the story and the one who is hearing it. And if the listener mishears or misinterprets the story's meaning, well, that is Chung's central theme. Because when Janie's grandmother tells her a story about how every...
Beyond the Book
The family in Forgotten Country
flees South Korea in the tumultuous wake of what many South Koreans consider to be the worst tragedy in Korean history since World War II - worse even than the Korean War. Indeed by all accounts the event that took place in May of 1980, known as the Kwangju Massacre, when hundreds of students and private citizens of a university town (also known as Gwangju or Gwangju Metropolitan City) were slain by the Korean military, is widely acknowledged as a national tragedy.
It all began as a demonstration against the military dictatorship of General Chun Doo Hwan...