The Calligrapher's Daughter Summary and Reviews

The Calligrapher's Daughter

by Eugenia Kim

The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim X
The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2009
    400 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

In early-twentieth-century Korea, Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny. Smart and headstrong, she is encouraged by her mother—but her stern father is determined to maintain tradition, especially as the Japanese steadily gain control of his beloved country. When he seeks to marry Najin into an aristocratic family, her mother defies generations of obedient wives and instead sends her to serve in the king's court as a companion to a young princess. But the king is soon assassinated, and the centuries-old dynastic culture comes to its end.

In the shadow of the dying monarchy, Najin begins a journey through increasing oppression that will forever change her world. As she desperately seeks to continue her education, will the unexpected love she finds along the way be enough to sustain her through the violence and subjugation her country continues to face? Spanning thirty years, The Calligrapher's Daughter is a richly drawn novel in the tradition of Lisa See and Amy Tan about a country torn between ancient customs and modern possibilities, a family ultimately united by love, and a woman who never gives up her search for freedom. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [A] beautiful, deliberate and satisfying story spanning 30 years of Korean history." - Publishers Weekly

"Kim has excelled at portraying Najin as a spirited yet loyal daughter and wife while exposing a tragic time during Korea's sustained history as a nation." - Library Journal

"The Calligrapher's Daughter fascinated me, as much for its characters as for its engrossing story of Korea under the Japanese occupation. Najin's father is admirable for exactly the traits that make him difficult, and her apparently passive mother is heroic. I can’t stop thinking about them and their honest, brave, and very human daughter." - Alice Mattison, author of Nothing is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn and The Book Borrower

"Delicate black-and-white illustrations complement the prose. A compelling narrative about an intellectually curious and brave heroine." - School Library Journal (Adult Books for High School Students)

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Author Information

Eugenia Kim Author Biography

Eugenia Kim's debut novel, The Calligrapher's Daughter, won the 2009 Borders Original Voices Award, was shortlisted for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a critics' pick by The Washington Post. Her stories have appeared in Asia Literary Review, Washington City Paper,Eclectic Grace: Fiction by Washington Area Women, and elsewhere. Kim teaches Fairfield University's MFA Creative Writing Program and lives in Washington, DC.

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