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THE VOICES OF HEAVEN

A complex, uniquely Korean love story that shouldn’t be missed.

Awards & Accolades

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In Devine’s debut novel, war and traditional Confucianism tear apart an idyllic Korean family.

Eum-chun and her husband, Gui-yong, have been married for 15 years and are deeply in love. Although they adore their adopted daughter, Mi-Na, they fail to produce a son—a serious problem in their deeply traditional society. Gui-yong eventually gives in to his mother’s wishes and marries a second woman, Soo-yang, hoping she will deliver a boy to carry on the family name. Although Eum-chun tries to bear the situation bravely, she’s devastated, and cracks soon begin to form in the seemingly perfect family. The novel, set against the backdrop of the Korean War, follows four main characters as they navigate their new family and the chaos that ravages the land. Devine’s prose richly describes everyday life in 1950s Korea, and the war effectively parallels the battle raging in the family home—an insurmountable rift divides the family, just as it does their country. It’s a realistic sketch of a Korea that few Westerners have seen, depicting a patriarchal society that limits women’s choices, and each character faces a unique battle stemming from that unfortunate situation. Each of their stories is rich with emotion, and their problems give the novel depth and complexity. Most compelling are the struggles of Eum-chun, Mi-Na and Soo-yang as they fight to create their own identities; although they all fight similar battles, they cannot fight them together, as their society has driven wedges between them. Their resulting stories are often melancholy and achingly beautiful.

A complex, uniquely Korean love story that shouldn’t be missed.

Pub Date: May 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1624120039

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Seoul Selection

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2013

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HOUSE OF LEAVES

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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OF MICE AND MEN

Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Steinbeck refuses to allow himself to be pigeonholed.

This is as completely different from Tortilla Flat and In Dubious Battle as they are from each other. Only in his complete understanding of the proletarian mentality does he sustain a connecting link though this is assuredly not a "proletarian novel." It is oddly absorbing this picture of the strange friendship between the strong man and the giant with the mind of a not-quite-bright child. Driven from job to job by the failure of the giant child to fit into the social pattern, they finally find in a ranch what they feel their chance to achieve a homely dream they have built. But once again, society defeats them. There's a simplicity, a directness, a poignancy in the story that gives it a singular power, difficult to define.  Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1936

ISBN: 0140177396

Page Count: 83

Publisher: Covici, Friede

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1936

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