A brilliant novel from an exciting new writer.
Isadora Myung Hee SohnIsaworships her mother, an exceptional beauty, born in Seoul and sheltered in a harem of sisters inside the wealthy familys compound. Isas father, a scientist and professor, an orphan, is haunted by the war in which he served as a South Korean soldier and by a painful secret that he keeps from his wife. Still mourning the death of Isas younger brother, Stephen, her parents are traditional enough to prize their dead son over their living daughter; to them, Isa only half exists.
But unlike many Asian American daughters, Isa is neither meek nor a quiet victim of tradition. Despite her parents success and sophisticationtheyve achieved the American dreamshe repudiates their values, embarks on her own sexual education, and runs away with an albino boy, Hero. At the same time, Isa suspects that despite her mothers strict adherence to Korean traditional values, she is involved with another man, and Isa determines to make the affair known. What begins as a childs unthinking fury at her mother soon leads to more deadly consequences.
A daring, haunting, inspired debut.
My name is Isadora Myung Hee Sohn and I am eighteen years old. I was recently ninety-five days on a pediatric burn unit at Tri-State Medical Center, in Albany, New York, being treated for second- and third-degree burns on my legs, complicated by a recurring bacterial infection. The same fire that injured me killed my parents, Hae Kyoung Chung and Tae Mun Sohn, on June 11, 1976, at approximately 3:20 a.m.
It's very isolating to recover from a severe burn injury. The pain requires a great deal of attention and inward focus. While your skin tissue rages and dies, you try and put yourself as far away as possible mentally, to take refuge in small, retrievable thoughts. Nursery rhymes are sometimes useful, as are television theme songs and knock-knock jokes.
Here's a riddle. A jumbo jet takes off from New York en route to Vancouver with 246 people on board. There's a massive snowstorm, visibility worsens, passengers pray and panic. The pilot ...
Min also illuminates a universal truth - that all of us are to an extent "second-generation" children, because we're all born into a secondhand world, "what is novel to us is only so because we're newborn"; and each of us must find our own place in this hand-me-down society.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (638 words).
Katherine Min was born in
Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and
graduated from Amherst College and the
Columbia School of Journalism. She
currently teaches at Plymouth State
University and the Iowa Summer Writing
Her short stories have appeared in many publications and have been anthologized, most recently in The Pushcart Book of Stories: The Best Short Stories from a Quarter-Century of The Pushcart Prize. "Eyelids" was listed as one of 100 distinguished stories in The Best American Short Stories of 1997. "The Brick" was read on National Public ...
If you liked Secondhand World, try these:
David King was twelve years old when he moved from Korea to New Jersey. In loosely-connected tales, we follow David as he adapts to his new country.
Doria, 15, is growing up in the rough Paris immigrant public housing projects. She sets her dreams against the grim daily struggle of her life: "It's like a film script. . . . trouble is, our scriptwriter's got no talent. And he's never heard of happily ever after."
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