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Please Look After Mom (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – 3 Apr 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (3 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307739511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307739513
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,604,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Shin's novel, her first to be translated into English, embraces multiplicity. It is told from the perspectives of four members of [a missing woman's] family; from their memories emerges a portrait of a heroically industrious woman. [Mom] runs their rural home 'like a factory, ' sews and knits and tills the fields. The family is poor, but she sees to it that her children's bellies are filled . . . Only after her children grow up and leave their home in [the countryside] does Mom's strength and purposefulness begin to flag. Questions punctuate [the] narrative and lead to a cascade of revelations, discoveries that come gradually. . . Shin's prose, intimate, and hauntingly spare, powerfully conveys grief's bewildering immediacy. [Daughter] Chi-hon's voice is the novel's most distinct, but Father's is the most devastating. . . . And yet this book isn't as interested in emotional manipulation as it is in the invisible chasms that open up between people who know one another best. . . . A raw

"A suspenseful, haunting, achingly lovely novel about the hidden lives, wishes, struggles and dreams of those we think we know best." --"Seattle Times"
"A moving portrayal of the surprising nature, sudden sacrifices, and secret reveries of motherhood." --"Elle"
"Intimate and hauntingly spare. . . . A raw tribute to the mysteries of motherhood." --"The New York Times Book Review"
"Lovely. . . . "Please Look After Mom, " especially its magical, transcendent ending, lifts the spirit as only the best writing can do." --"Minneapolis Star-Tribune"
"Shin renders a tender and beautiful portrait of South Korea, but the novel recognizes a familial dilemma experienced throughout the world." -"Ms." Magazine blog
"The most moving and accomplished, and often startling, novel in translation I've read in many seasons. . . . Every sentence is saturated in detail. . . . It tells an almost unbearably affecting story of remorse and belated wisdom that reminds us how globalism--at the human level--can tear souls apart and leave them uncertain of where to turn." --Pico Iyer, "Wall Street Journal"
"The novel perfectly combines universal themes of love and loss, family dynamics, gender equality, tradition, and charity with the rich Korean culture and values which make "Please Look After Mom" a great literary masterpiece." --"Seattle Post-Intelligencer"
"An authentic, moving story that brings to vivid life the deep family connections that lie at the core of Korean culture. But it also speaks beautifully to an urgent issue of our time: migration, and how the movement of people from small towns and villages to big cities can cause heartbreak and even tragedy. This is a tapestry of family life that will be read all over the world. I loved this book." --Gary Shteyngart, author of "Super Sad True Love Story"
"Haunting. . . . The novel's language--so formal in its simplicity--bestows a grace and solemnity on childhood scenes that might otherwise be overwrought. . . . Throughout the novel, the rhythms of agrarian life and labor that Shin deftly conveys have a subtle, cumulative power." --"Boston Sunday Globe"
"An affecting account of a slow-burn family break-up. . . . Well-controlled and emotionally taut. . . . What distinguishes this novel is the way it questions whether our pasts, either public or private, are really available for us to recollect and treasure anyway." --"The Financial Times
"
"A captivating story, written with an understanding of the shortcomings of traditional ways of modern life. It is nostalgic but unsentimental, brutally well observed and, in this flawlessly smooth translation by Chi-Young Kim, it offers a sobering account of a vanished past. . . . We must hope there will be more translations to follow." --"Times Literary Supplement" (London)
"A poignant story of a family told in four voices. . . . Shin's storytelling and her gift for detail make "Please Look After Mom" a book worth reading." --"Post and Courier"
"Shin perceptively explores the greatest mystery--not Mom's disappearance, but who Mom really was. Every mom, that is." -"Richmond Times-Dispatch
"
"Here is a wonderful, original new voice, by turns plangent and piquant. "Please Look After Mom" takes us on a dual journey, to the unfamiliar corners of a foreign culture and into the shadowy recesses of the heart. In spare, exquisite prose, Kyung-sook Shin penetrates the very essence of what it means to be a family, and a human being." --Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "March
"
"Shin is a scribe with a slow and steady pulse; this is writing that allows you to meander with your own thoughts (and reflect on your own mother, perhaps), while still following the physical and mental travels of her characters. . . . Plain and softy insistent eloquence." --"Hyphen Magazine"
"Intriguing. . . . It is easy to see the source of this global popularity, for not only is Shin's absorbing novel written with considerable grace and suspense, but she also has managed to tap into a universality: the inequitable relationship between a mother and her children." --Bookpage
"An arresting account of the misunderstandings that can cloud the beauty of the affection and memories that bind two very different generations. . . . A touching story that effectively weaves the rural, ages-old lifestyle of a mother into the modern urban lives of her children." --"Newark Star-Ledger"
"Here is a deeply felt journey into a culture foreign to many--yet with a theme that is universal in its appeal. A terrific novel that stayed with me long after I'd finished its final, haunting pages. This is a real discovery." --Abraham Verghese, bestselling author of "Cutting for Stone"

A suspenseful, haunting, achingly lovely novel about the hidden lives, wishes, struggles and dreams of those we think we know best. "Seattle Times"
A moving portrayal of the surprising nature, sudden sacrifices, and secret reveries of motherhood. "Elle"
Intimate and hauntingly spare. . . . A raw tribute to the mysteries of motherhood. "The New York Times Book Review"
Lovely. . . . "Please Look After Mom, " especially its magical, transcendent ending, lifts the spirit as only the best writing can do. "Minneapolis Star-Tribune"
Shin renders a tender and beautiful portrait of South Korea, but the novel recognizes a familial dilemma experienced throughout the world. "Ms." Magazine blog
The most moving and accomplished, and often startling, novel in translation I ve read in many seasons. . . . Every sentence is saturated in detail. . . . It tells an almost unbearably affecting story of remorse and belated wisdom that reminds us how globalism at the human level can tear souls apart and leave them uncertain of where to turn. Pico Iyer, "Wall Street Journal"
The novel perfectly combines universal themes of love and loss, family dynamics, gender equality, tradition, and charity with the rich Korean culture and values which make "Please Look After Mom" a great literary masterpiece. "Seattle Post-Intelligencer"
An authentic, moving story that brings to vivid life the deep family connections that lie at the core of Korean culture. But it also speaks beautifully to an urgent issue of our time: migration, and how the movement of people from small towns and villages to big cities can cause heartbreak and even tragedy. This is a tapestry of family life that will be read all over the world. I loved this book. Gary Shteyngart, author of "Super Sad True Love Story"
Haunting. . . . The novel s language so formal in its simplicity bestows a grace and solemnity on childhood scenes that might otherwise be overwrought. . . . Throughout the novel, the rhythms of agrarian life and labor that Shin deftly conveys have a subtle, cumulative power. "Boston Sunday Globe"
An affecting account of a slow-burn family break-up. . . . Well-controlled and emotionally taut. . . . What distinguishes this novel is the way it questions whether our pasts, either public or private, are really available for us to recollect and treasure anyway. "The Financial Times
"
A captivating story, written with an understanding of the shortcomings of traditional ways of modern life. It is nostalgic but unsentimental, brutally well observed and, in this flawlessly smooth translation by Chi-Young Kim, it offers a sobering account of a vanished past. . . . We must hope there will be more translations to follow. "Times Literary Supplement" (London)
A poignant story of a family told in four voices. . . . Shin s storytelling and her gift for detail make "Please Look After Mom" a book worth reading. "Post and Courier"
Shin perceptively explores the greatest mystery not Mom s disappearance, but who Mom really was. Every mom, that is. "Richmond Times-Dispatch
"
Here is a wonderful, original new voice, by turns plangent and piquant. "Please Look After Mom" takes us on a dual journey, to the unfamiliar corners of a foreign culture and into the shadowy recesses of the heart. In spare, exquisite prose, Kyung-sook Shin penetratesthe very essence of what it means to be a family, and a human being. Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winning author of "March
"
Shin is a scribe with a slow and steady pulse; this is writing that allows you to meander with your own thoughts (and reflect on your own mother, perhaps), while still following the physical and mental travels of her characters. . . . Plain and softy insistent eloquence. "Hyphen Magazine"
Intriguing. . . . It is easy to see the source of this global popularity, for not only is Shin s absorbing novel written with considerable grace and suspense, but she also has managed to tap into a universality: the inequitable relationship between a mother and her children. Bookpage
An arresting account of the misunderstandings that can cloud the beauty of the affection and memories that bind two very different generations. . . . A touching story that effectively weaves the rural, ages-old lifestyle of a mother into the modern urban lives of her children. "Newark Star-Ledger"
Here is a deeply felt journey into a culture foreign to many yet with a theme that is universal in its appeal. A terrific novel that stayed with me long after I d finished its final, haunting pages. This is a real discovery. Abraham Verghese, bestselling author of "Cutting for Stone""

About the Author

Kyung-Sook Shin is the author of numerous works of fiction and is one of South Korea s most widely read and acclaimed novelists. She was the first woman to be awarded the Man Asian Literary Prize (for "Please Look After Mom"), and she has also been honored with the Manhae Literature Prize, the Dong-in Literature Prize, and the Yi Sang Literary Prize, as well as France s Prix de l Inapercu. "Please Look After Mom" is her first book to appear in English. It will be published in twenty-nine countries and has sold over 2 million copies in South Korea alone."


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Kyung-Sook Shin has written an exceptional novel and I can see why it is a bestseller in its native language, in Korea. It is a story about relationships, about families and those close to us. The story is about a mother who is separated from her husband when boarding a train in Seoul, South Korea,on the way to visit her eldest son and her family's search for her. It is told in four voices, a daughter, a son, a husband and a mother. The story unfolds in mostly second-person narration, from the point of view of each these characters. The translator, Chi-Young Kim did an excellent job with the translation and made it seem as though it were originally written in English.

Rather than being given a lot of intimate details about each of these people, the author brings us into the drama of the mother disappearing at the station, and although we come to know a little more about the mother, there are really more questions than answers about the other family members. I normally like stories with a lot of character development, but somehow, this really worked and I was quickly drawn in, perhaps in the way of an accident or other tragedy where you don't want to look, but somehow need to know how and why it happened and how the people involved are affected. In many cases Kyung-Sook Shin gives only a few details and it is up to the reader to fill in the blanks. It gives a glimpse into the culture of present day South Korea both in a large city and in a rural area and we can see how much things have changed in only a single generation. It only took a few pages to become very involved.

This story is about complex emotions and interactions between family members. It was striking how differently each member of the family handled the disappearance.
Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
It is set in a different setting but the moving theme is the same no matter where it is set.
We seem to understand family members especially parents like the palm of the hand. but we keep forgetting they are getting old day by day. It is a reminder to us that parents do not stay with us forever. Well written and a thought-provoking book. I recommend it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
VERY GOOD QUALITY AS EXPECTED
Delivered as described
Easy to transect
Well translated and good to read
kind enough the seller
Recommend for others
Simple to use
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
my daughter in law wanted this book for christmas,she seemed very happy with it.I don't know if she has read it yet.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x92b98c48) out of 5 stars 355 reviews
362 of 375 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92bad918) out of 5 stars A moving novel, both powerful and fragile 5 Mar. 2011
By PT Cruiser - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kyung-Sook Shin has written an exceptional novel and I can see why it is a bestseller in its native language, in Korea. It is a story about relationships, about families and those close to us. The story is about a mother who is separated from her husband when boarding a train in Seoul, South Korea,on the way to visit her eldest son and her family's search for her. It is told in four voices, a daughter, a son, a husband and a mother. The story unfolds in mostly second-person narration, from the point of view of each these characters. The translator, Chi-Young Kim did an excellent job with the translation and made it seem as though it were originally written in English.

Rather than being given a lot of intimate details about each of these people, the author brings us into the drama of the mother disappearing at the station, and although we come to know a little more about the mother, there are really more questions than answers about the other family members. I normally like stories with a lot of character development, but somehow, this really worked and I was quickly drawn in, perhaps in the way of an accident or other tragedy where you don't want to look, but somehow need to know how and why it happened and how the people involved are affected. In many cases Kyung-Sook Shin gives only a few details and it is up to the reader to fill in the blanks. It gives a glimpse into the culture of present day South Korea both in a large city and in a rural area and we can see how much things have changed in only a single generation. It only took a few pages to become very involved.

This story is about complex emotions and interactions between family members. It was striking how differently each member of the family handled the disappearance. There are emotions that most of us could identify with in some way: helplessness, guilt, impatience, sadness and also joy. It was powerful and fragile at the same time. There are lessons to be learned and questions about how we view our relationships. It's the kind of story I'll be thinking about for a long time.

Try not to read too many spoilers if you're planning to read this book. The story needs to be uncovered layer, by layer, just as it was written. Two thumbs up for this moving novel.
115 of 122 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92bb0510) out of 5 stars Intense, Emotional, Gripping 24 Mar. 2011
By JLee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a unique novel, unlike anything I had read before. It is extraordinarily emotional. I couldn't put it down.

A wife and husband have journeyed from their family farm to the city to visit their grown children. He rushes onto a subway train, expecting her to follow. He travels several stops before he even realizes she's not there.

The family has to deal with the trauma of having their mother/wife/sister-in-law missing. She has various health problems that add to their concerns, and time passes with few leads. They all recall past events that make them realize how important she was to them and how they took her devotion and hard work for granted. They also begin to comprehend how little they truly knew about her feelings, hopes and dreams - - the person behind labels like "mother" or "wife."

The book is alternately heartbreakingly sad and uplifting. It will make you want to hug every person you care about and tell them how much you love them. Better yet, I hope it will make you ask them questions about who they truly are, what their childhood was like, what they wanted in life. All those things you can't ask after they are gone.

It was also fascinating to read about Korean culture and history as it related to the family. However, in the long run, this book is a universal story of human life, equally relevant to modern America.

I highly, highly recommend this beautiful book to everyone. In fact, it should be required reading because you will never see your family, particularly your mother, the same way again.
81 of 87 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92bb05dc) out of 5 stars Please Look After Mom 27 Mar. 2011
By Becker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
~
I don't remember ever feeling so fortunate to get my hands on an Advance Reader's Copy, than I did after finishing this English translated Korean best seller, Please Look After Mom. This is definitely one of my favorite Vine books, and it will certainly have a place among my favorites in my personal library.

The novel revolves around an elderly Korean woman, Park So-nyo, who goes missing after losing contact with her husband at the Seoul subway station. As her family feverishly searches for her, the reader gets a taste of what type of person Park So-nyo was, and a feel for the relationships she shared with her loved-ones. The whole book is told in 4 chapters, by 4 different characters: 2 of the missing woman's children, her husband, and the missing woman herself.

I loved every minute that I was able to steal away and read Kyung-soak Shin's poetic prose, and I'd recommend this book to anyone who is a mother, who knows a mother, or who has a mother.
61 of 71 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92bb051c) out of 5 stars Beautifully written but hard to follow 23 May 2011
By S OBrien - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Please Look After Mom" is the kind of book I find myself gravitating towards these days...books about different cultures. This book delivers great insight into the Korean culture and the interfamial workings of a Korean family. Each of the four relationships are depicted from the point of view of the individual. The central point of the book is the varied reactions of four family members to the mysterious loss of their Mom at a crowded Seoul Train Station. Father gets on the train but Mom does not. The family reacts as most families would. We never do find out exactly what happened to Mom.

Two negatives with this book: the use of the word "You" for every character brings confusion as to who is speaking. Second: I enjoyed the book but could not get excited about reading it straight through. I procrastinated and took weeks to finish it. This is the reason I gave this book 3 stars. I would not discourage readers from reading it but be advised that is's a slow read.

S O'Brien, Illinois
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x946f60c0) out of 5 stars Literary genius and poignant.... it made me cry... 7 April 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is absolutely wonderful. The prose is melodic, and beautiful. The story catches hold of you and won't let go, and at the end, instead of feeling bereft, you feel a catharsis (and a need to go hug your mom and tell her how much you love her). If you are a mom, you can feel truly confident that even if it seems your kids take you for granted, someday they will realize how truly special you were to them. If you are thinking about your own mother, you will gain a new appreciation for all the sacrifices and love she showed you. This book is a true gem and I felt it was like a beautiful flower that slowly bloomed as I read it, and at the end, I did cry, but it was a good cry. It was so heart-felt and beautiful. Please, read this book, then go give your mom a hug and kiss and tell her you love her and appreciate her. The mother/child relationship is so complicated: sometimes you feel annoyed at your mom, sometimes you want to tell her how annoying she is, but just realize, at the end, you need to tell her you love her.
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