Kyung-sook Shin: Background information when reading Please Look After Mom

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Please Look After Mom

A Novel

by Kyung-sook Shin

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2011, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2012, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Kyung-sook Shin

Print Review

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.

Kyung-sook Shin 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 entitled Winter's Fable, which earned her the Munye Joongang Literary Newcomer's Prize.

However, Shin's work didn't receive public attention until 1993 when she published a short-story collection entitled Where the Harmonium Once Stood. It is considered a landmark book and a turning point in Korean literary style; before its publication, Korean literature was heavily charged with political themes, whereas Shin's book explored the depths of humanity.

According to Korean Modern Literature in Translation, "Her writing is characterized by a profound and unique point of view focusing on the human mind, featuring colorful prose utilizing symbolism and metaphor that captures the minute details of life's subtle trials and tribulations. Shin is also known for her expressive and heartfelt narrative style."

The following is a list of some of the awards Shin's books have won:

  • 1985 The Munye Joongang Literary Newcomer's Prize for Winter's Fable
  • 1993 The Hankuk Ilbo Literary Award for Where the Harmonium Once Stood
  • 1995 Hyundae Literary Award for Whenever I Take A Deep Breath
  • 1996 Manhae Literary Prize for A Lone Room
  • 1997 Dong-in Literary Award for When Will He Come
  • 2000 21st Century Literary Prize for The Place Where He Doesn't Know
  • 2001 Yi Sang Literary Prize for Buseok Temple
  • 2006 Oh Young-soo Literary Prize for Linden Tree in Front of the Castle Gate
  • 2009 Prix de l'Inaperçu for A Lone Room

Article by Kim Kovacs

This article was originally published in May 2011, and has been updated for the April 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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