BookBrowse Reviews Skull Water by Heinz Insu Fenkl

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Skull Water

A Novel

by Heinz Insu Fenkl

Skull Water by Heinz Insu Fenkl X
Skull Water by Heinz Insu Fenkl
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2023, 384 pages

    Dec 26, 2023, 384 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer Hon Khalaf
Buy This Book

About this Book



Intertwining lyrical language, folklore and mythical traditions within a modern coming-of-age story, Heinz Insu Fenkl conveys the complexities of the intergenerational trauma and culture clashes that arose from the Korean War.

Skull Water begins with teenage Insu in 1974. He is returning to his mother's homeland of Korea due to his German-American military father's redeployment, after living abroad for much of his childhood. Insu soon meets his mother's brother, Big Uncle, with whom he finds a spiritual connection that prompts his transformation into a man. Through this bond, along with the relationships Insu develops with people in the military and local community, he comes to terms with the realities of death and what it takes to seek a life that extends beyond merely surviving the impacts of war. Author Heinz Insu Fenkl interlaces Big Uncle's memories from the Korean War in 1950 with the adventures experienced by Insu and his friends at the military base in the 1970s as they grapple with accepting tragedies that befall them and their loved ones.

Mystical realism and folklore are woven into the novel, ...

Subscribers Only

BookBrowse's reviews and "beyond the book" articles are part of the many benefits of membership and, thus, are generally only available to subscribers, including individual members and patrons of libraries that subscribe.

Join Today

Member Login

Library Patrons


Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Skull Water, try these:

  • Pachinko jacket


    by Min Jin Lee

    Published 2017

    About this book

    More by this author

    A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone.

  • The Surrendered jacket

    The Surrendered

    by Chang-rae Lee

    Published 2011

    About this book

    More by this author

    A stunning story about how love and war inalterably change the lives of those they touch, The Surrendered is elegant, suspenseful, and unforgettable: a profound meditation on the nature of heroism and sacrifice, the power of love, and the possibilities for mercy and salvation.

Read-Alikes are one of the many benefits of membership. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    by Jennifer Saint
    Few cultures in history mastered the art of tragedy quite like the ancient Greeks. And very few ...
  • Book Jacket: Salvage This World
    Salvage This World
    by Michael Farris Smith
    In the near-future universe of Michael Farris Smith's Salvage This World, life-threatening ...
  • Book Jacket: Where Coyotes Howl
    Where Coyotes Howl
    by Sandra Dallas
    Where Coyotes Howl may appear to be a classically conventional historical novel — a wide-eyed ...
  • Book Jacket: After the Miracle
    After the Miracle
    by Max Wallace
    Many people have heard one particular story about Helen Keller—how the saintly teacher, Annie ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The First Conspiracy
by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch
A remarkable and previously untold piece of American history—the secret plot to kill George Washington

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Little Italian Hotel
    by Phaedra Patrick

    Sunny, tender and brimming with charm, The Little Italian Hotel explores marriage, identity and reclaiming the present moment.

Win This Book
Win Girlfriend on Mars

30 Copies to Give Away!

A funny and poignant debut novel that skewers billionaire-funded space travel in a love story of interplanetary proportions.



Solve this clue:

Y S M Back A I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.