Drifting House

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Penguin, Feb 2, 2012 - Fiction - 224 pages
3 Reviews
An unflinching portrayal of the Korean immigrant experience from an extraordinary new talent in fiction.

Spanning Korea and the United States, from the postwar era to contemporary times, Krys Lee's stunning fiction debut, Drifting House, illuminates a people torn between the traumas of their collective past and the indignities and sorrows of their present.

In the title story, children escaping famine in North Korea are forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to survive. The tales set in America reveal the immigrants' unmoored existence, playing out in cramped apartments and Koreatown strip malls. A makeshift family is fractured when a shaman from the old country moves in next door. An abandoned wife enters into a fake marriage in order to find her kidnapped daughter.

In the tradition of Chang-rae Lee's Native Speaker and Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, Drifting House is an unforgettable work by a gifted new writer.

 

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User Review  - A_Reader_of_Fictions - LibraryThing

Drifting House consists of nine short stories. All of them focus on Koreans or Korean-Americans. The topics of each short story vary greatly, as do the time in which they're set (from the 1970s to ... Read full review

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Although I prefer novels over short stories, I’ve read my fair share of short story collections. Some were good and some were bad. Once in awhile I come across a collection of short stories that isn’t just “good,” it’s superb. "Drifting House" (February 2012) is such a collection.
The nine stories within this volume tell the tales of both Koreans and Korean-Americans over a forty year time span (1970s to present). Although the stories are independent of each other, they share many common themes, including loss, love, and loneliness. The narrators range from a gifted young boy living in America with his Korean born parents (“At the Edge of the World”) to a mother desperate to find her daughter who was kidnapped and taken to America by her ex-husband (“A Temporary Marriage”). One of my favorite stories, “The Goose Father,” is about a lonely man working in Korea who sends money overseas to his family living in Boston. In an effort to stave off his loneliness, Gilho decides to welcome a tenant named Wuseong into his house. This decision is life-changing.
Krys Lee is a very talented writer. Her carefully crafted prose is both tight and lyrical. Although each story is only about twenty to twenty-five pages long, a good deal happens in every one. The diversity of themes makes this an excellent book group selection. Overall, "Drifting House" is a must-read—even for those who don’t read usually read short stories.
 

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Contents

A TEMPORARY MARRIAGE
AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
THE PASTORS SON
THE GOOSE FATHER
THE SALARYMAN
DRIFTING HOUSE
A SMALL SORROW
THE BELIEVER
BEAUTIFUL WOMEN
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Krys Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea, raised in California and Washington, and studied in the United States and England. She was a finalist for Best New American Voices, received a special mention in the 2012 Pushcart Prize XXXVI, and her work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, Narrative magazine, Granta (New Voices), California Quarterly, Asia Weekly, The Guardian, The New Statesman, and Condé Nast Traveller, UK (forthcoming). She lives in Seoul with intervals in San Francisco.
www.kryslee.com

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