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The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness
Cover of The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness
The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness
The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness is a stark and lyrical work that follows a teen-aged girl who has just arrived in Seoul to work in a factory while struggling to achieve her dream of finishing school and becoming a writer. Shin sets the this complex and nuanced coming of age story against the backdrop of Korea's industrial sweatshops of the 1970's and takes on the extreme exploitation, oppression, and urbanization that helped catapult Korea's economy out of the ashes of the war.Millions of teen-aged girls from the countryside descended on Seoul in the late 1970's. These girls formed the bottom of the city's social hierarchy, forgotten and ignored. Richly autobiographical, the novel lays bare the conflict and confusion Shin goes through as she confronts her past and the sweeping social change that has taken place in her homeland over the past half century. The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness has been cited in Korea as one of the most important literary novels of the decade, and cements Shin's legacy as one of the most insightful and exciting young writers of her generation.
The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness is a stark and lyrical work that follows a teen-aged girl who has just arrived in Seoul to work in a factory while struggling to achieve her dream of finishing school and becoming a writer. Shin sets the this complex and nuanced coming of age story against the backdrop of Korea's industrial sweatshops of the 1970's and takes on the extreme exploitation, oppression, and urbanization that helped catapult Korea's economy out of the ashes of the war.Millions of teen-aged girls from the countryside descended on Seoul in the late 1970's. These girls formed the bottom of the city's social hierarchy, forgotten and ignored. Richly autobiographical, the novel lays bare the conflict and confusion Shin goes through as she confronts her past and the sweeping social change that has taken place in her homeland over the past half century. The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness has been cited in Korea as one of the most important literary novels of the decade, and cements Shin's legacy as one of the most insightful and exciting young writers of her generation.
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About the Author-
  • Kyung-Sook Shin is one of South Korea's most widely read and acclaimed novelists. She is the author of I'll Be Right There and Please Look After Mom, which was a New York Times bestseller and a Man Asian Literary Prize winner.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    October 15, 2015

    Credited with revitalizing Korea's publishing industry, Shin's 2011 Please Look After Mom (the author's debut in English) made this international powerhouse the first woman to win the Man Asian Literary Prize. Her latest, arriving stateside 20 years after its Korean publication, is part memoir, part portrait-of-an-artist-as-a-teenager, and part writing treatise. Shin is the eponymous girl at 16, sent from her village to live in a "lone room" in Seoul with her oldest brother and cousin to work tedious hours in an electronics factory for the opportunity to attend high school at night. Korea in 1978 is an economically and politically unstable country whose youth will pay the highest price for the phenomenal success to come. Sixteen years later, Shin's an established writer, contacted by a former classmate: "You don't write about us.... Could it be you're ashamed?" The years of elision yield to fraught memories: her reclamation of her own name and age, her tenuous relationships, the teacher who gifted her with a book and the belief she could be the novelist she would become. VERDICT This work stands the test of time. Isolation and suicide among young adults worldwide have only tragically multiplied, making Girl urgently auspicious. Described at beginning and end as "not quite fact and not quite fiction," this book is essential reading.--Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews Shin's unemotional delivery and understated yet devastating perspective on her country's expectations and norms are familiar from her earlier novels, but this book's grim glimpse into the lives of factory girls is notably haunting. There's a hypnotic quality to this melancholy coming-of-age story described as 'not quite fact and not quite fiction.' Allusive and structurally sophisticated, it melds Shin's characteristic themes of politics, literature, and painful experience into a mysteriously compelling whole.
  • The New York Times Book Review Intimate and hauntingly spare. A raw tribute.
  • Historical Novels Society The tone is as dreary as its topic, but it is a fictional account of what absolutely must be told and known. Intense but revealing historical fiction that the author calls something between 'not quite fact, not quite fiction.'
  • Library Journal, starred review This work stands the test of time. Isolation and suicide among young adults worldwide have only tragically multiplied, making The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness urgently auspicious. Described at beginning and end as "not quite fact and not quite fiction," this book is essential reading.
  • The Wall Street Journal The most moving and accomplished, and often startling, novel in translation I've read in many seasons. Every sentence is saturated in detail.
  • The Economist In The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness, Shin opens her nation's transition and her people's struggle to the world that looked away for all those years. Please Look After Mom, Ms. Shin's poignant examination of how Korea's evolution has impacted the different generations, gave birth to these other translations. But her later works are still more profound. While South Korea is but a whisper of its former self, Ms. Shin's writing grabs hold of those memories and brings them loudly to the surface.
  • New York Times Book Review Shin writes about a time and setting that may seem remote to many Americans, but in many ways her specificity is universal; we all have a monster that has no face, and which we try to avoid. Shin paints her own monster for us.
  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune Affecting. How does an author write about a troubled land when her sorrow is so great? Shin's novel provides a powerful record of the time.
  • The Boston Globe Haunting. The novel's language, so formal in its simplicity, bestows a grace and solemnity.
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