Translated by: Yu Young-nan
Publisher: Merwin Asia, 2016.
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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.
Entry on Goodreads.com here.
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