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.
It's been one week since Mom went missing.
The family is gathered at your eldest brother Hyong-chol's house, bouncing ideas off each other. You decide to make flyers and hand them out where Mom was last seen. The first thing to do, everyone agrees, is to draft a flyer. Of course, a flyer is an old-fashioned response to a crisis like this. But there are few things a missing person's family can do, and the missing person is none other than your mom. All you can do is file a missing-person report, search the area, ask passersby if they have seen anyone who looks like her. Your younger brother, who owns an online clothing store, says he posted something about your mother's disappearance, describing where she went missing; he uploaded her picture and asked people to contact the family if they'd seen her. You want to go look for her in places where you think she might be, but you know how she is: she can't go anywhere by herself in this city. Hyong-chol designates you to write ...
While the book's themes are universal, its details are specific to rural Asia. The book is filled with descriptions of the everyday lives of Korean farmers as the characters take turns recalling the sacrifices of their mother. The reader learns about farming and cooking, childbirth, the holding of ancestral rights, and dealing with the poverty that often accompanies an agrarian lifestyle. It's a fascinating glimpse of a lifestyle unfamiliar to many who are products of Western culture.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (874 words).
International bestselling author Kyung-sook Shin has garnered unprecedented levels of success for her novel, Please Look After Mom. Originally published in South Korea in 2008 and having sold over a million and a half copies, it is the first of her books to be translated into English and has been published in nineteen countries worldwide.
Born in 1963 in Jeolla Province in South Korea to a large family, Shin left home at age 16 to pursue an education in Seoul, as her parents were subsistence farmers and did not have the financial means to send her to high school. She attended the Seoul Institute of the Arts as a creative writing major, taking classes at night and working during the day, and in 1985 she published her first novella ...
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