Gary Pak: A Ricepaper Airplane
University of Hawai’i Press, 1998
Synospis (from the back of the book)
From a hospital bed a dying man unfolds the tale of an arduous life on the fringes of a Hawai’i sugar plantation in the 1920s. There Kim Sung-wha – labourer, patriot, revolutionary, aviator – envisioned building an airplane from ricepaper, bamboo, and the scrap parts of a broken-down bicycle, an airplane that would carry him back to his Korean homeland and to his wife and children. From the start, Sung-wha’s dream is destined to fail, but this moving and passionate work is the story of a man who dares to live past the wreckage of shattered visions. His is a heroic story of loss, of deep love, and of rebirth.
A promising synopsis which is unfortunately let down by the reality of the book. This is for experienced or patient novel-readers only, as the narrative skips in time, space and point of view, making it hard to get to grips with the storyline. The most wearing aspect is that the central character’s speech is written in a thick Hawaian dialect which needs its own glossary. This reader normally goes the extra mile when it comes to Korea-related books: even if the text is difficult or dull I usually struggle on to the end. But in this case there was little to entice me to endure, and I confess that I gave up.