*Starred Review* Moving among feelings from reserved to exuberant and from easy joy all the way to devastating pain and loss, Chung’s superb debut examines the twin hearts of cruelty and compassion between sisters in particular and family in general. Korean immigrant and grad student Janie, born Jeehyun, and her younger sister, Hannah, known as Haejin in their native tongue, struggle to maintain even the veneer of a sisterly bond as they at times gracefully float together, then violently come apart, throughout their lives. When Hannah abruptly disappears from the family fold, Janie is charged by their father with finding her and bringing her back. Haunted by childhood memories of her grandmother’s story about the family being cursed with lost sisters for generations, Janie feels compelled to find Hannah yet bitterly resentful as well. A second harrowing blow to the family lends urgency to Janie’s search while providing deeper introspection about the fragile and implacable bonds that hold a family together even across the seemingly impassable chasm of different cultures and changing generations. This elegantly written, stunningly powerful, simply masterful first novel should earn Chung many fans, especially among those who enjoy Amy Tan, Eugenia Kim, Lisa See, and Chang-Rae Lee. --Julie Trevelyan
"The unflinchingly honest examination of grief, anger, familial obligation, and love gives the novel a compelling emotional core."--The New Yorker
"Chung indelibly portrays a Korea viciously divided but ever bound to history, myth, and hope."--O, The Oprah Magazine
"Gorgeous . . . a heartbreaking story about sisters, family, and keeping traditions alive."
"In this beautiful debut novel...Woven with tender reflections, sharp renderings of isolation, and beautiful prose...Chung simultaneously shines light on the violence of Korean history, the chill of American xenophobia, and the impossibility of home in either country."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Luminous and surprising . . . [Chung's] voice is fresh, her material rich, and Forgotten Country
is an impressive, memorable debut."
--San Francisco Chronicle
“This elegantly written, stunningly powerful, simply masterful first novel should earn Chung many fans, especially among those who enjoy Amy Tan, Eugenia Kim, Lisa See, and Chang-Rae Lee.”
“It is a rare novel -- debut or otherwise -- that can sing at once with such tenderness and ferocity, with such intense feeling and exquisite restraint. Forgotten Country
is just that book, poetically crafted, shimmering with hard-won emotion, and wholly absorbing. A superb performance.”
-Chang-rae Lee, author of The Surrendered
and Native Speaker
“A heartbreaking debut novel that will leave you quietly shattered in its wake. Forgotten Country
is an exquisitely rendered account of a Korean immigrant family divided by two sisters, two countries and a curse that spans generations. Catherine Chung has written a haunting meditation on family loyalty and the lingering legacy of war.”
-Julie Otsuka, author of When the Emperor Was Divine
and The Buddha in the Attic
“I was left utterly devastated by the wonder and heartbreak captured in these pages. Forgotten Country
is overflowing with folktales and family secrets, with American and Korean traditions, with haunting prose and mathematical beauty. Here is a book to cherish, and to celebrate. When I finished the last page I made a promise to myself to be more fearless and fierce with my love; it's that kind of book.”
-Justin Torres, author of We the Animals
is a richly emotional portrait of a family that had me spellbound from page one. Catherine Chung’s beautiful and wise novel will haunt me for years to come.”
-Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
“Catherine Chung's wonderful first novel is a moving and deeply personal story of a family caught between two very different countries and very different lives.”
-Alison Lurie, author of Foreign Affairs
“Catherine Chung is a writer whose first novel I've been waiting for, and her debut, Forgotten Country, more than fulfills what I hoped for---a boldly imagined novel of Korea and America, of a curse between sisters and a family trying to outrun a war that will not let them go. Chillingly beautiful and magnetic, unforgettable.”
-Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh
"A riveting, brutal portrait of two sisters in crisis, Catherine Chung's unforgettable debut is a work of enormous talent and heart. Written with compassion and insight, Forgotten Country examines the unspoken complexities of familial love and forgiveness, loyalty and betrayal, and renders an indelible, haunting image of Korea, past and present."
-Kate Walbert, author of A Short History of Women
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