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The Muslim Butcher

Translated by:
Publisher: , 2016
Link to online store *

Several decades after the Korean War, the unnamed narrator of this story is taken in by an aged Turk, Uncle Hassan, a veteran of that conflict who makes a living as a butcher in a Seoul slum. The precocious narrator, a troubled boy, wonders who his parents are and why they abandoned him. He befriends a number of people, all poor and downtrodden, including Aunt Anna, a caring woman running a restaurant; Uncle Amos, a compulsive liar and a Greek who stayed on in Korea after the war, and many others. As the narrator gets to know them, he finds his path, realizing what human community is all about and what love means. Employing the child’s point of view, he humorously grapples with the hypocrisy of grown-ups, racism, prejudices against the poor and different religions, and most of all, the meaning of fighting another nation’s war and its aftermath. The novel begins with “my adoptive father’s blood flows in my body” and ends with an echo, “my adoptive father’s blood is still flowing in my body.” In between, the narrator, lost and hurt, is healed by the flawed but sympathetic characters.

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* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.