From Publishers Weekly
When Han Hyun-ku appears on the doorstep of his younger brother's home in Korea nearly 40 years after he immigrated to America, the far-flung members of the Han family find their lives unexpectedly intersecting in this elegant debut novel. Han Hyun-ku's adult daughter, Jane, a photojournalist who narrowly escaped death from an explosion in Baghdad, follows her father to Korea, inwardly pleased that he has left behind her alcoholic, self-centered mother. Meanwhile, Jane cannot shake her memories of the harrowing experience that ended her longtime relationship with her ex and sent her to Baghdad. In Korea, Han Jung-joo, Han Hyun-ku's sister-in-law, accepts the arrival of these unexpected guests with her usual serenity, but as her worry for her pregnant, troubled daughter grows, the household begins to break apart. Han Jung-joo's younger brother, a divorced artist, arrives, precipitating events that change everyone's lives forever. Switching deftly between different characters' points of view, Chung portrays with precision and grace each character's struggle to find his or her place in the family and in the world. (Mar.)
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From Library Journal
The title of Chung's exquisite novel seems to be missing a word: "not long for this world" would be the easy, expected phrase. But little is easy or expected in this multilayered story of two brothers—one Korean and the other who chooses to become Korean American—and their scattered families, whose lives converge in a perfectly blended East/West house on a faraway Korean island. When Han Hyun-ku unexpectedly arrives at his younger brother's home, he is escaping an American life circumscribed by a detached wife and troubled son. His exhausted daughter, Jane, a renowned photojournalist of death and destruction, follows her missing father. Strangers that they are even among family, father and daughter are gratefully absorbed into a seemingly easy rhythm, but the temporary peace cannot ease inevitable tragedy. "Some people are not long for this world," Jane remarks. "The rest of us survive." VERDICT Readers who enjoyed superbly crafted, globe-trotting family sagas such as Kamila Shamsie's Burnt Shadows, Naeem Murr's The Perfect Man, or Changrae Lee's A Gesture Life will swoon over Chung's breathtaking debut. —Terry Hong, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, Washington, DC