Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim

The morning book group will meet on Friday, May 6 at 10:30 a.m. to discuss The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim. The Christian Science Monitor compared Eugenia Kim to Amy Tan and Lisa See and I agree. The Calligrapher's Daughter is based on the life of the author's mother which makes it all the more gripping.

Najin is the daughter of an aristocratic scholar who paints scrolls and screens commissioned by the Korean royal family. Her father, Han, is accustomed to traditional Korean life under the Joseon Dynasty, which ended after over 500 years when Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910. Najin is born the same year, and she grows up in a very different world under the Japanese occupation. This book has everything in it - love, war, intrigue, history, strong women and interesting relationships. Now that I know a little more about Korean history, it makes more sense to me how the North Korean military dictatorship of Kim Jong-Il could even be possible.

Discussion questions and an interview with the author are available on the book's web site. LibraryThing has another interview with Eugenia Kim.

Eugnenia Kim is a graphic designer who got her MFA later in life to do justice to her mother's story. UPDATE: Originally I said that she was a hat designer, because I saw that LibraryThing listed 2 books under her name, one of which was a hat book. I missed the disambiguation notice that said the books were by 2 different authors.

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