8 hours ago
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Calligrapher's Daughter
The Calligrapher's Daughter is the story of Najin Han. It takes place over a 30 year span during the Japanese occupation of Korea which I knew very little about.
At age five Najin learns she is nameless as her father, Han refuses to name her. He is a calligrapher and a political activist who has led a proper but privileged Korean life. He is very set in the old Korean ways and traditions. He refuses to name his daughter as he wrongly blames her for the political unrest and does not accept her. It is sad and shocking to me. She is finally given the name Najin from her mother's home town. Najin is smart and headstrong. She is allowed to go to school until she is fourteen at which time her father arranges a marriage ti a twelve year old boy with an excellent family pedigree. Najin's mother tricks Han into allowing Najin to go be with her aunt instead and be of service to the royal family. They convince Han this would make Najin more desirable for marriage later on. Eventually Najin is educated and becomes a wife. Najin turns into a strong independent woman who I greatly admired. The story addresses the many struggles the family has during the occupation. I learned so much about Korea during the time period that I never knew before. I am ashamed to say I did not know much about Korea and it's people at all. Eugenia Kim wrote a beautiful story of love, family, honor and tradition. It is not a fast read due to the Korean names and words but it is a book to be read slowly and savored. Eugenia Kim has also included an glossary in the back of the book to help with the Korean language. The Calligrapher's Daughter is Eugenia Kim's debut novel which was inspired by her own mother's life. I would give this book 5 stars.