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The Korean Word For Butterfly Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews


"5 stars. Full of fresh, orginal writing." -THE KINDLE BOOK REVIEW

"This is one of the best young novels of the year." -Grady Harp, Amazon TOP 50/HALL OF FAME REVIEWER

"Zerndt is a wonderful writer, and BUTTERFLY is an absolutely beautiful story. I was drawn into his characters from the first page, and I found myself devouring the novel in huge, satisfying gulps." - kacunnin, Amazon TOP 500 REVIEWER

"The author had his finger on the pulse of how naïve Americans react to Korean culture and a spot on depiction of how Korean culture plays into this sort of scenario." -Wayne, Amazon TOP 500 REVIEWER/VINE VOICE

"Unfortunately, racism and misunderstandings between cultures are still a huge problem and it's nice to see that someone has the guts to put it in a novel without turning everything into cliches. This is certainly a book that could get people thinking." (Kim Anisi)

From the Back Cover

"Zerndt is the real deal." -Jonathan Harris, author of The Wave That Did Not Break

Product Details

  • File Size: 5043 KB
  • Print Length: 330 pages
  • Publication Date: December 16, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C2UY052
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,945 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

James Zerndt is the author of THE CLOUD SEEDERS, THE KOREAN WORD FOR BUTTERFLY, and BRAILLING FOR WILE. His short story, "THIS JERKWATER LIFE", was recently chosen as an Editor's Pick in Amazon's Kindle Singles store. He received an MFA in Writing from Pacific University and now lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.

He can also be found at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Dana Schumacher on April 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
There are those books in life that teach you things not just about the world but also about yourself. `The Korean Word for Butterfly' was one such book for me. The descriptions in the book are searing, beautiful and unique, the writing style refreshingly clean and simple. Set in South Korea, the story follows a young, American woman, Billie, who travels there to teach English. It is written from her point of view as well as from the points of view of two of the native Koreans she meets there, a young woman named Yun-ji and a man named Moon. The book centers on issues of relationships, parenting, pregnancy and abortion. The subject matter is not always easy, but it is a story about basic emotions transcending differences and people handling questions about what it means to bring life into the world...or choosing not to do so. The author does not flinch from facing truths, even ugly ones, and revealing those truths through the thoughts and actions of his characters. The people in his story are wonderfully, sometimes painfully, human. Billie can be frustratingly self-absorbed, often appearing to lack an iota of strength or decisiveness. Much of the time her life seems to be happening to her, and she has trouble allowing others to get close to her. Yun-ji spends a lot of the story bound by cultural mores and her own preconceptions. Moon has a secret from his past and the guilt of it eats at him. These are not cardboard cutouts but real people with real flaws, struggling to negotiate life's path as best they can.

The details about Korea included in the book and the smattering of Korean words and phrases bring the country to vivid life. The author handles the cultural differences with sensitivity and appreciation.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Resnick TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book tells the story of two Americans who travel to Korea to teach English. They are poorly qualified and applied for the jobs using fake transcripts from schools they never attended. From the moment the characters arrived in Korea, it was clear that the author had his finger on the pulse of how naive Americans react to Korean culture and a spot on depiction of how Korean culture plays into this sort of scenario. In real life, Korean schools do hire Americans with the purported qualifications, not because of a demonstrated mastery of English but because they appear to be native speakers, as Korean parents expect. Indeed, such schools would probably not hire a native born American citizen with a PhD in English if that person were of Asian ancestry since the person would not look the part. Even without prior knowledge of this, a reader will soon have a realistic feel of the dynamic involved in this sort of environment.

The book also tells the story of two Korean characters whose lives intersect with these Americans, both at a personal and professional level. As opposed to the treatment of minor characters in the story, the primary focus on one of the teachers and the two Korean characters is presented throughout the story in cyclical chapters. The chapter names are literally the given names of those three characters, repeated in order almost to the end of the book. Although at times a bit contrived, and with switches between a first and third person view that don't always transition smoothly, for much of the book this paradigm works quite well.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
James Zerndt. Note the name because we are bound to see it become a household word. Though this is Zerndt's second novel (I have not read his first novel THE CLOUD SEEDERS) and it represents the depth and profundity and polish of a seasoned writer. Not only does Zerndt grasp the secret of how to unravel a well-constructed story, complete with a slow character build up, an interplay of all the characters with a natural evolution, a denouement that is transcendent, and a resolution that leaves the reader with a feeling of complete satisfaction, but he also has elected in THE KOREAN WORD FOR BUTTERFLY to use a writing style that follows the tilt of the story - a mixture of Western prose with isolated lines that resemble Eastern haiku that spaces his interwoven tale in chards that the reader can assemble as a part of the reading process. Arendt's time spent in Korea enhances his ability to pulse Korean language and customs and manners naturally, and that is one of the reasons the balance between the Korean aspect and the American aspect is so smooth. In other words, this novel works.

The time is 2002, the year of the World Cup in Korea, and we first meet Billie and Joe - two high school graduates who for the urge to see something different have falsified documents that they are graduates from Reed College in their hometown of Portland, Oregon I order to be accepted as teachers in a Korean school for children who need to learn English. They are met at the airport by Moon, a recovering alcoholic whose drinking problem has resulted in his wife's leaving him and allowing only periodic visits to his iyoung son who he assaulted in a drunken fit.
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