The Calligrapher's Daughter: A Novel

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Henry Holt and Company, Mar 30, 2010 - Fiction - 400 pages
26 Reviews

A sweeping debut novel, inspired by the life of the author's mother, about a young woman who dares to fight for a brighter future in occupied Korea

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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ZaraD.Garcia-Alvarez - LibraryThing

The narrative is delicate and sensitive as the mannerisms and language of traditional Korean propriety. And though the daughter of the calligrapher is born unnamed, her strength of character and ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - blodeuedd - LibraryThing

Another win. This was a great book, and I would recommend it to fans of Wild Swans by Jung Chang, Leaving Mother Lake by Yang Erche Namu & Christine Mathie, and even Memoirs of a geisha by Arthur ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

PART I
The Daughter of the Woman from Nahjin
A Childs Shepherd
Autumn Walk
Secret Flags
The Secret of Water
Ten Thousand Years
One Hundred Days
The Linen Closet
Saved Letters
The Moons Portent
Box of Light
PART III
Empty Pockets
The Price of Jesus
The Calligraphers Design

Books New and Old
The Curious Power of Words
The Royal Seal
The Last Palace
PART II
Riding the Bicycle
Nuna Means Elder Sister
A Good Christian with Modern Thinking
A Measure of Faith
By the Beach
Like the Sun
Theres Time Later
Night Demons
Master of the House
Korean Royal Treasure
APO
A Korean Dressed Like a GI
The New House
Historical Note
Glossary
Acknowledgments
About the Author
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Eugenia Kim is the daughter of Korean immigrant parents who came to America shortly after the Pacific War. She has published short stories and essays in journals and anthologies, including Echoes Upon Echoes: New Korean American Writings, and is an MFA graduate of Bennington College. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and son. The Calligrapher's Daughter is her first novel.

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