Please Look After Mother-Kyung-Sook Shin
nationality: S. Korea
Novel in translation
"When sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station, her family begins a desperate search to find her. Yet as long-held secrets and private sorrows begin to reveal themselves, they are forced to wonder: how well did they actually know the woman they called Mom?"
Quite a heart wrenching and heart warming tale of unrecognized sacrifice and how we take things and people for granted until they're gone. I don't really know too many people who don't at least sometimes feel like they're selfish to their mothers. Or at least look back at teenagehood and wince.
It was quite well done that there was such a sense of place (this was definitely not set in the West!) but even after the spirit turns into a bird, it feels so universal. This mother is the Far Asian archetype-poorly educated but did everything for her childrens' benefits. Shin pours a lot of dedication and love into her writing so that the focus is on the feelings not on style or any fancy literary devices.
I can see this being too sentimental or melodramatic for some but there was just enough plot and I got drawn so far into the family that I forgave it. Instead, I just gave my mother a call just to make sure she didn't get lost.
With this book I've officially finished my GWC challenge.