How friendship, European literature, and a charismatic professor defy war, oppression, and the absurd
Set in 1980s South Korea amid the tremors of political revolution, I'll Be Right There follows Jung Yoon, a highly literate, twenty-something woman, as she recounts her tragic personal history as well as those of her three intimate college friends. When Yoon receives a distressing phone call from her ex-boyfriend after eight years of separation, memories of a tumultuous youth begin to resurface, forcing her to re-live the most intense period of her life. With profound intellectual and emotional insight, she revisits the death of her beloved mother, the strong bond with her now-dying former college professor, the excitement of her first love, and the friendships forged out of a shared sense of isolation and grief.
Yoon's formative experiences, which highlight both the fragility and force of personal connection in an era of absolute uncertainty, become immediately palpable. Shin makes the foreign and esoteric utterly familiar: Her use of European literature as an interpreter of emotion and experience bridges any gaps between East and West. Love, friendship, and solitude are the same everywhere, as this book makes poignantly clear.
©2010 Kyung-sook Shin. Translation ©2013 by Sora Kim-Russell (P)2014 Audible Inc.
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This is not an easy book to listen to. There's a lot of pain. But the construction of the novel, with various disclosures coming at various times; the amazing language; and the depth of feeling, the scope of the life vision, the tenderness... stunning. All this beauty easily makes up for the tough bits. It will be forever with me.
"Like beautiful poetry but in the format of a novel"
Yes. This is one of the best novels to describe what it means to be alive.
She narrates for at least 5 different characters in this novel and managed to make them sound very distinctive and natural. Also, I think Erin Moon's performance has great rhythm, slower when it calls for it and faster when needed.
I cannot wait to listen to Kyung-Sook Shin's other book that I found on Audible.
"Depressing. Takes too long to get started."
I'm not one to endure a slow start. This author's writing is interesting enough, but the story wanders around for too long.
I found myself into the 3rd chapter thinking, where are we going here? I haven't been able to become interested in, nor can I begin to care about these people. Like with his previous book, something about a "Mom" (as you can see, I don't even remember the name) there basically is no plot or it develops later. I wanted to give this author another chance because, like I said, the actual writing is thoughtful and eloquent, but not enough to hold my interest without a plot and with weak characterization. Get me outta these people's lives.
"Nobody does a thing"
The story would've been better if the characters did anything. They spent all of their time NOT doing things. Refraining from doing things. Not calling people, not writing to people. Not thinking about people. They were like following around and listening to dull, philosophical ghosts.
Maybe the book was all about them unable to act. But wow, did it make a boring story.
The narrator read so slowly I had to listen to the story at 1.5x speed just to maintain my interest.
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