Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim follows a young girl, sold to a courtesan school, before the Korean independence movement. Ms. Kim, a Princeton graduate, was born in Korea – this is her first novel.
- 416 pages
- Publisher : Ecco
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 006309357X
One of the reasons I really enjoy reading historical fiction, is because I get to learn something new. Knowing very little about Korean history, I felt that Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim certainly delivered on that front.
The book is a rich, sprawling historical fiction with a cast of relatable characters, showcasing their virtues, as well as flaws. I especially enjoyed the theme of a lifelong interconnection between people we meet throughout our lives. The author did a masterful job writing that theme throughout the book, without pushing it in the reader’s face.
Ms. Kim does not pull her punches. For people living in industrialized countries, it’s difficult, if not impossible to imagine the heartbreaking choices parents have to make. Many don’t understand how parents can sell their kids, for example, a horrible choice but the other is to let them starve.
The novel takes place during a turbulent time in Korean history. The story takes place during the defining decades of 1917 to 1965. These are not only decades which defined Korea, but also the world as we know it. I was surprised to learn that Korea was annexed in 1910.
This is the second book, in a short time, I read about the Japanese occupation of Korea. The first one, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, takes a more current look at the aftermath of the occupation. The brutality of the occupation might be over; however, the psychological scars still exist.
The one issue I had is that this book is that there are too many current jargons, as well as American expressions. This, for me, distracted from the historical part of the book, but I do understand the difficulty of conveying something in a precise manner for the intended audience. That being said, I enjoyed this book very much and am looking forward to Ms. Kim’s future books.
Jade, a young Korean girl, is sold by her family to Miss Silver’s courtesan school as an act of depression. Jade befriends a street boy named JungHo, and the two form a deep, lifelong friendship.
As they grow up, JungHo becomes a Korean revolutionary, while Jade becomes a star performer.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
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