When I find an author I like, I usually find all their books and read them until I am inundated with their voice. I did this with Rupi Kaur, Junot Diaz, Frank Mc Court and now with Shin Kyung Sook. I’ve just finished reading three of her books – international bestseller Please Look after Mom, The girl who wrote Loneliness, and I’ll be right there. My favorite of the three is The Girl who wrote Loneliness. It is the least fictional, the one closest to her true experiences, which in a way gives it more weight.
I like Shin Kyung Sook’s style of writing because in many ways it mirrors my own. It’s not quite truth and not quite fiction. It finds its home somewhere in between. When tackling a particular subject, you get a sense of how she turns it over and over, examining it from all angles. Every now and then she reminds the reader of the important story bits but not in a repetitive way. Her narration flows and ties well together.
Even though she writes about the awkwardness and avoidance of facing uncomfortable emotions, she doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the things that would traditionally be left unsaid. Still, the books are easy reads. The emotions they rouse in you aren’t heavy but rather expansive in range. There’s never an impulse to put the book aside for the moment and go get a glass of water and a breather. That is not to say that they are light reads either. The topics she handles – the inexplicable guilt that colors many familial relationships, the intricacies of friendships, the oppressive nature of grief, the history and political climate of the industrialization period in Korea – are all solemn and enlightening. They’re right up my alley.
Before that, I was reading Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, whose review I shared on Facebook. And right now I’m reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang. The Vegetarian is an easy read despite it being a rather dark story. It starts off with a woman’s life-changing decision to stop eating meat. Then the narrative, told from three points of view of people close to her, unfurls. But never in the ways you expect it to. It is surprising, sometimes titillating, other times horrifying but overall unputdownable. They are all worthy reads that I highly recommend.
When I’m not reading fiction, I’m studying encyclopedias of History, birds, flowers, herbs and spices, insects and wildlife – all in service of the craft of writing. I have an ongoing project. A work in progress. I spend my days thinking about prose, dialogue and my characters feverishly. I am anxious to complete it, to end this fallow period. Still, if I try to rush it, I become flustered and lose my tap on the stream of consciousness. So I’m learning to be okay with it taking the time it takes.
Thank you for your continued support. The quills do need ink and the writer thrives on coffee 🙂 I’m accepting support on M-Pesa Buy Goods Till number 5476019. All amounts are welcome and appreciated. Go on then, make a girl smile.2