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A Small Revolution Hardcover – May 1, 2017
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Named one of Entropy Magazine’s Best Fiction Books of 2017
“We’ve all wondered what it’s like inside the rooms where the horrors unfold. Jimin Han’s relentless, timely A Small Revolution grabs you by the collar and pulls you inside, then back through her sympathetic character’s history to answer that question: How does a good girl end up inside a brutal disaster? How does young love become a mirage of political activism—and accident become hostage-taking and murder? Open the book; remember to breathe.” —Gwendolen Gross, author of When She Was Gone and The Orphan Sister
“On the heels of South Korea’s 1980s era pro-democracy uprisings, Jimin Han’s gripping debut novel, A Small Revolution, explores the volatile space between love and loss, desperation and deed.” —Julie Iromuanya, author of Mr. and Mrs. Doctor, a finalist for 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award and 2016 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Debut Fiction Award
“Jimin Han’s debut novel, A Small Revolution, is a riveting and mysterious tale of young love, political intrigue, family secrets, and dangerous obsession rendered in prose so gripping I couldn’t put it down.” —Joy Castro, author of The Truth Book and Hell or High Water
“With exquisite precision, Jimin Han’s A Small Revolution transforms the claustrophobic confines of an unfolding hostage crisis into an expansive meditation on the collisions between past and present, hope and fear, life and death. Elegant, elegiac, and unsettling, each new page offers insight and revelation.” —Steve Edwards, author of Breaking into the Backcountry
“Jimin Han’s A Small Revolution packs a big punch. With a front story taken from the headlines of gunmen on college campuses and a haunting backstory of events in Korea, our protagonist is forced into walking a tightrope between two worlds, as well as the past and present.” —Alan Russell, author of Lost Dog
About the Author
Jimin Han received her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College and her BA from Cornell University. Her work appears in NPR’s Weekend America, Entropy, the Rumpus, HTMLGiant, The Good Men Project, Kartika Review, The NuyorAsian Anthology, and KoreanAmericanStory.org, among others. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and lives outside New York City with her husband and children.
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I read some of the negative reviews and didn't really understand them. There are so many novels these days (especially thrillers) that go back and forth between the present and flashbacks, which is what this book does. It's true that the chapters are very short, so it can be a little disorienting at first to go back and forth so many times and so quickly, but it doesn't take long to get used to that style. And I thought Yoona's narration style of talking to her boyfriend created an intimate voice that I found compelling. It's true that those elements of the novel (along with other quirks, like Lloyd's dialogue when he holds the girls hostage being set in all-caps) are not run-of-the-mill things you see in most novels, but to me, that only makes the novel more interesting and fun to figure out!
The story touches on a lot of powerful subjects: political activism, domestic violence, gun violence, abortion, mental illness, young love, and stalking.
Yoona's romance with Jaesung is sweet and a little unsettling. Jaesung and Lloyd are friends who very much want to get involved in the political protests in South Korea, Yoona is reluctant and scared. The book takes place in the mid-80's, so when Yoona gets word that Jaesung has been killed in an accident, she wants information. But how does that happen in the 80's? There's no internet, no YouTube, even international phone calls were complicated (not to mention expensive). So Yoona is left with microfiche in the library, and Lloyd's theories/first person accounts.
The book isn't very long, and as more and more gets revealed the tension really ratchets up! I'm glad I had a nice rainy afternoon that I could spend reading, I didn't want to put it down. The characters in this book will stay with me for awhile.
This is what good writing does—it stretches you until you can hear your muscles tearing. I’ll be honest. At first, I was a little put off by the short passages that seemed more like journal entries than chapters. But as I followed Yoona in her attempt to come to terms with her current predicament—being held hostage by a former friend—I discovered a history I had little knowledge of. And I also learned of the pain immigrants can feel when trying to assimilate in this purported land of opportunity.
A SMALL REVOLUTION is powerful. And, like a dream, every reader is bound to experience it differently.