You will never think of your mother the same way after you read this book.
Already an international sensation and a bestseller that has sold over 1.5 million copies in the author's native Korea, Please Look After Mom is a stunning, deeply moving story of a family's search for their missing mother - and their discovery of the desires, heartaches and secrets they never realized she harbored within.
When sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station, and vanishes, their children are consumed with loud recriminations, and are awash in sorrow and guilt. As they argue over the "Missing" flyers they are posting throughout the city - how large of a reward to offer, the best way to phrase the text - they realize that none of them have a recent photograph of Mom. Soon a larger question emerges: do they really know the woman they called Mom?
Told by the alternating voices of Mom's daughter, son, her husband and, in the shattering conclusion, by Mom herself, the novel pieces together, Rashomon-style, a life that appears ordinary but is anything but.
This is a mystery of one mother that reveals itself to be the mystery of all our mothers: about her triumphs and disappointments and about who she is on her own terms, separate from who she is to her family. If you have ever been a daughter, a son, a husband or a mother, Please Look After Mom is a revelation - one that will bring tears to your eyes.
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While the book's themes are universal, its details are specific to rural Asia. The book is filled with descriptions of the everyday lives of Korean farmers as the characters take turns recalling the sacrifices of their mother. The reader learns about farming and cooking, childbirth, the holding of ancestral rights, and dealing with the poverty that often accompanies an agrarian lifestyle. It's a fascinating glimpse of a lifestyle unfamiliar to many who are products of Western culture. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs). Full Review (874 words).
The New York Times
Shin's prose, intimate and hauntingly spare in this translation by Chi-Young Kim, moves from first to second and third person, and powerfully conveys grief's bewildering immediacy… Passages of the novel may cause the grown children among Shin's readers to cringe… And yet this book isn't as interested in emotional manipulation as it is in the invisible chasms that open up between people who know one another best.
Indelible... will appeal to all readers who appreciate compelling, page-turning prose. Stay tuned: Mom should be one of this year's most deserving bestsellers.
[A]n impressive exploration of family love, poverty, and triumphing over hardship.
A mother's disappearance exposes family consciences, secrets and dependencies... Partly a metaphor for Korea's social shift from rural to urban, partly an elegy to the intensity of family bonds as constructed and maintained by self-denying women, this is tender writing.
Affecting... Poignant and psychologically revealing... Readers should find resonance in this family story, a runaway bestseller in Korea poised for a similar run here.
Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
Please Look After Mom is an authentic, moving story that brings to vivid life the deep family connections that lie at the core of Korean culture. But it also speaks beautifully to an urgent issue of our time: migration, and how the movement of people from small towns and villages to big cities can cause heartbreak and even tragedy. This is a tapestry of family life that will be read all over the world. I loved this book.
Abraham Verghese, bestselling author of Cutting for Stone
Kyung-sook Shin has managed some kind of alchemy in this novel. Weaving together four vivid voices - of daughter, son, husband, and...
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