Please Look After Mother, By Kyung-sook Shin

 

Boyd Tonkin
Friday 23 March 2012 01:00 GMT
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

An elderly lady, So-nyo, vanishes in the metropolitan "maze" of Seoul station. Through the voices of her family (and hers), we follow the frantic search to find her. And we wonder, in this tender, thoughtful and well-crafted Korean bestseller: who is the lost woman, and what else has disappeared?

Long-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, Shin's novel (in Chi-young Kim's translation) achieves sugar-free compassion.

Paradoxically invisible until absence makes others imagine her life, So-nyo also carries the weight of the vast upheaval that made country folk into mega-city dwellers.

Without any preaching, and with a focus always on one fractured family, Shin asks what we all have lost.

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