Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Finds

The Old Garden by Hwang Sok-Yong

Political prisoner Hyun Woo is freed after eighteen years to find no trace of the world he knew. The friends with whom he shared utopian dreams are gone. His Seoul is unrecognizably transformed and aggressively modernized. Yoon Hee, the woman he loved, died three years ago. A broken man, he drifts toward a small house in Kalmoe, where he and Yoon Hee once stole a few fleeting months of happiness while fleeing the authorities. In the company of her diaries, Hyum Woo relives and reviews his life, trying to find meaning in the revolutionary struggle that consumed their youth—a youth of great energy and optimism, victim to implacable history.

He weighs the worth of his own life, spent in prison, and that of the strong-willed artist Yoon Hee, whose involvement in rebel groups took her to Berlin and the fall of the Wall. With great poignancy, Hwang Sok-yong grapples with the immortal questions—the endurance of love, the price of a commitment to causes—while depicting a generation that sacrificed youth, liberty, and often life for the dream of a better tomorrow.


The Others by Seba al-Herz

A sheltered teenager living with her protective mother and studying Islamic jurisprudence at a women's college, the nameless narrator falls into a passionate physical relationship with another student named Dai, who is despotic and fiercely jealous. Given to flights of breathlessly manic description, the narrator depicts her secret shared moments with Dai in ecstatic bursts, all the while exploring Internet homosexual chatrooms and dabbling in flirtations with men and women. Erratically, she reveals details about herself, such as that a health issue has decreased her marriage prospects in a culture where early arranged marriage is the norm (her best friend essentially disappears when she gets engaged); as well, the narrator suffers from the losses of her father and brother.

17 comments:

Jess said...

Wow -- these both sound great.

Alyce said...

The Old Garden sounds really good!

Clea Simon said...

These both sound really interesting!

bermudaonion said...

Those are both great finds!

Vicki said...

Both sound amazing!!

Diane said...

WOW...You have picked books that look great and I've never heard of. I LOVE the black and white cover. Thanks so much

Booklogged said...

Love the cover on The Others.

J.T. Oldfield said...

these both sound excellent!

reviewsbylola said...

Both books seem lovely.

Mark David said...

Interesting. I've been curious to see Korean fiction for some time now. Thanks for sharing :)

Belle said...

The cover for The Others is really striking!

Bryan R. Terry said...

The Others sounds fascinating.

My Finds are HERE

Kelly said...

Both of these books sound so good, not exactly lightweight reading, but the kinds of books that just grab you and pull you in.

My find is HERE.

Leslie said...

nice! sounds great!

Tice Belmont said...

The Old Garden sounds heartbreaking. What interesting finds!

ds said...

The Old Garden is going on the List,though both books are very interesting--and different!--finds. Thanks.

Heather J. said...

that first book sounds fantastic!