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Black flower by Young-ha Kim

Black flower (edition 2012)

by Young-ha Kim, Charles La Shure

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422273,462 (3.43)8
Title:Black flower
Authors:Young-ha Kim
Other authors:Charles La Shure
Info:Boston, Mass. : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:historical fiction, Koreans, Mexico, ebook, ARC, NIL, NetGalley

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Black Flower by Young-ha Kim



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The backdrop of > is a departure from Kim's other translated work, shedding light on a relatively obscure piece of Korean and Central American history that brought a small group of Koreans unknowingly into Mexican slavery. The material is presented true to Kim's form, juggling a myriad of backgrounds and motivations that keep the plot moving without getting overly critical or sympathetic to any particular individual. The family historian in me wanted more information from and about the descendants Kim found ten years ago in 2003; wondering what stories got passed down and how much they knew of their (mixed?) cultural background.

The piece that irked me about this newly translated work is just that - the translation. Kim's previous works I have managed to get copies of (> and >) were translated by Chi-Young Kim, whilst this work was done by Charles La Shure. There were parts, probably not more than five small lines, which of course I neglected to mark and cannot find now, that were translated with an English turn-of-phrase. I understand that there are many facets to consider when translating an author and that sometimes sacrifices need to be made. (see La Shure's interview here: http://publishingtheworld.com/2013/02/06/5-questions-with-charles-la-shure-trans... )
La Shure keeps true to Kim's form and style but these tiny little descriptions feel jarring to the story, reminding me I live in the present and not in this story.

The only other thing about the work that I wasn't in love with were the depictions of battle. This is mainly due to the fact wars and battles, whilst necessary, are simply not interesting to me, whether written or on the screen. Even the best scenes shot with the highest resolution and graphics bores me on the same level that guys feel about chick-flics. ( )
  VeritysVeranda | Oct 16, 2013 |
I've read a lot of non-fiction books that seem like novels. This may be my first novel that seems like non-fiction. It tells the story of the thousand-odd Koreans who left Korea during the Russo-Japanese War. They were headed for Mexico's Yucatán in the belief that it offered better opportunities than Japanese-occupied Korea. When they arrived, they discovered that they had been tricked into signing contracts for indentured servitude on henequen plantations. The novel follows several of the Korean immigrants from Korea to the plantations and through the Mexican Revolution.

There would have been little to hold my interest had the book been set in a different location. I would have preferred to read a non-fiction historical work on this topic, but apparently documentary sources are scarce. The novel included content I usually avoid in fiction, including supernatural elements such as demon possession as well as a few brief but graphic descriptions of sex. The novel also reminds me a bit of the few magical realism works I've read, but I don't think that element is strong enough to appeal to fans of that genre. I think this book will appeal most strongly to readers interested in Korean, Asian, Mexican, and/or Central American history.

This review is based on an electronic advanced reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Dec 2, 2012 |
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물풀들로 흐느적거리는 늪에 고개를 처박은 이정의 눈앞엔 너무나 많은 것들이 한꺼번에 몰려들었다.
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A tale of star-crossed love, political turmoil, and the dangers of seeking freedom in a new world, Black Flower is an epic story based on a little-known moment in history.

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