MARCH 24, 2012
THE CHARACTERS IN KRYS LEE’S stories are resourceful, determined, fragile, intimate, and lonely all at once. Most have been forced to piece together a life between Korea and America. In these patchwork lives, words like intimacy, proximity, identity, mother, father, child, family all have new meanings. A reader must learn this new vocabulary quickly lest all of Lee’s stories melt into pity. The effect on the children of families forced to send one member to America is profound: their growth, creativity, success in relationships are all affected. But what rises to the top — the cream of the stories — is the sheer will, the determination required to do whatever is necessary to create new opportunities for the next generation. The “goose fathers” send money to their families in America. The mothers who have given up their children live in pain, broken. Instability caused by famine, finance, and separated families makes this a book of floating stories, drifting houses, vertiginous survival. A reader feels, quite literally, dizzy; as if she were looking down from the bridge into the swirling black water, thinking, Surely, this would be easier than that.