The Great Homecoming Anna Kim

Granta Books, 2020
  • Book
  • , Fiction
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Far from an attempt to set the historical record straight, The Great Homecoming is a novel that embraces wholeheartedly the multifarious and troubled nature of one region’s identity. […] Searle’s translation seems effortless, moving fluidly between more reserved and immediate voices, setting us sometimes at the heart of the action and other times making us external judges of it. It captures perfectly the shape-shifting nature of the novel, in which nothing is ever quite as it seems.

The Monthly Booking

The Great Homecoming is a novel about seeking home and finding roots. Kim shows us that everyone has a story worth hearing, and that, especially during war, these stories of loss, fear, displacement and discrimination ultimately unite us.

Remarkably, Kim’s prose never gets weighed down by the history, which is also a testament to Searle’s elegant translation that shines throughout. This is a political novel, not just a love story, and the dangers of ideology resonate.

BookBlast

Divided from his family by the violent tumult of the Korean civil war, Yunho arrives in South Korea’s capital searching for his oldest friend. He finds him in the arms of Eve Moon, a dancer with many names who may be a refugee fleeing the communist North, or an American spy. Beguiled, Yunho falls desperately in love.

But nothing in Seoul is what it seems. The city is crowded with double agents and soldiers, and wracked by protests and poverty, while across the border, Pyongyang grows more prosperous by the day.

When a series of betrayals and a brutal crime drive the three friends into exile, Yunho finds himself caught in the riptide of history. Might a homecoming to North Korea be his only hope for salvation?

Extract

On the morning I moved in with Johnny, it rained incessantly. The heat warmed the rain, making the asphalt, the house walls, and even the tiles on the roofs seem to sweat, and a haze overhung the city. It was impossible to ride a bicycle through the streets; you had to get off and push, because the earth itself had turned to liquid.

Seoul was not a labyrinth of the indicative back then, there were only subjunctives and what-ifs; back then it was possible to have and try out numerous different lives, and often one of them would implode: the victims of the marriage fraudsters, who one day would have to defend themselves against lawful spouses, the innocent bigamists who had trusted a forged death certificate, the mix-ups that made children into orphans on a daily basis, the refugees from the North, arriving without any papers, who were branded as communists and persecuted. Back then it was inadvisable to depend upon just one life story, and it had never been easier to acquire several or exchange the one you had for another. Seldom had identity been so fragile; it could be shattered by a piece of paper.

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Far from an attempt to set the historical record straight, The Great Homecoming is a novel that embraces wholeheartedly the multifarious and troubled nature of one region’s identity. […] Searle’s translation seems effortless, moving fluidly between more reserved and immediate voices, setting us sometimes at the heart of the action and other times making us external judges of it. It captures perfectly the shape-shifting nature of the novel, in which nothing is ever quite as it seems.

The Monthly Booking

The Great Homecoming is a novel about seeking home and finding roots. Kim shows us that everyone has a story worth hearing, and that, especially during war, these stories of loss, fear, displacement and discrimination ultimately unite us.

Remarkably, Kim’s prose never gets weighed down by the history, which is also a testament to Searle’s elegant translation that shines throughout. This is a political novel, not just a love story, and the dangers of ideology resonate.

BookBlast