Your Republic Is Calling You Paperback – 28 Sep 2010
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"The romantic belief is that art can either familiarize the strange or estrange the familiar. Now here's a guy who can do both at the same time. Young-ha Kim, very much like his protagonist, is a spy.He is spying on humanity; the secret information he provides is invaluable." Etgar Keret, author of "The Nimrod Flipout
"What a ride! Young-ha Kim is clearly a writer to watch out for. "Your Republic Is Calling You" promises to be "the" breakout book from Korea. Through his compelling narration of events happening in a single day, heleads us into the heart and soul of modern Korea and tells us and what it means to be human in a world bristling with borders. I cannot praise it enough." Vikas Swarup, author of "Slumdog Millionaire"
""Your Republic Is Calling" "You" is that rare thing, a novel that is simultaneously suspenseful and meditative, an intriguingly provocative novel about freedom, duty, and inevitability. This highly-charged novel kept me up half the night, turning pages; I spent the other half wide awake, staring at the ceiling, thinking and thinking about it." Dean Bakopoulos, author of "Please Don t Come Back from the Moon
"An ordinary day in the life of a North Korean film distributor turns into an extraordinary adventure when it is revealed that he is a South Korean sleeper agent.Young-ha Kim narrates the formidable choice that his hero will have to make with unflinching honesty and masterful suspense. "Your Republic is CallingYou" is a thoroughly engrossing book." Laila Lalami, author of "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits" and "Secret Son""[An] ambitious novel from one of Korea s most admired writers . . . Energized by a powerful sense of the difficulty of 'belonging' in a dangerous place and time. Perhaps the most intriguing and accomplished Korean fiction yet to appear in English translation." -- "Kirkus Reviews"
"Deeply compelling . . .a riveting tale of espionage along with keen observations of human behavior." -- "Publishers Weekly
From the Back Cover
"What a ride! Kim leads us into the heart and soul of modern Korea and tells us what it means to be human in a world bristling with borders. I cannot praise it enough." Vikas Swarup, author of Slumdog MillionaireA foreign film importer, Ki-Yong is a family man with a wife and daughter. He is also a North Korean spy who has been living among his enemies for twenty-one years.Suddenly he receives a mysterious e-mail, a directive seemingly from the home office. He has one day to return to headquarters. He hasn t heard from Pyongyang in over ten years. Why is he being called back now? Has someone in the South discovered his secret identity?Spanning the course of one day, Your Republic Is Calling You is an emotionally taut, psychologically haunting novel that reveals the depth of one particularly gripping family secret. Confronting moral questions on small and large scales, it is a searing study of the long and insidious effects of dividing a nation. "Kim, very much like his protagonist, is a spy. He is spying on humanity; the secret information he provides is invaluable." Etgar Keret, author of The Nimrod Flipout"Simultaneously suspenseful and meditative, this highly-charged novel about freedom, duty, and inevitability kept me up half the night, turning pages; I spent the other half wide awake, staring at the ceiling, thinking and thinking about it." Dean Bakopoulos, author of Please Don t Come Back from th e Moon
Young-HA KIM is the award-winning author of I Have the Right to Destroy Myself which was highly acclaimed upon publication in the United States. He has earned a reputation as one of the most talented Korean writers of his generation."
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In the Kafka-esque `Your Republic is Calling You" Kim Young-ha creates his most integrated and human work.Intricately plotted and multiply narrated, "Your Republic is Calling You" begins a bit angularly, as if Kim is trying to work too many things into too little space. There is lots of expository internal-monologue revealing histories, judgments, and nostalgic presentations of past events. Things settle down however, and as it focuses on characters for longer periods of time, the book catches its stride.
The plot is deceptively simple - it follows one day in the life of a North Korean spy who is apparently being called back home. This call unravels his life in ways that are predictable and unpredictable.
The "spying" metaphor is at the heart the book as all its characters are, one way or another, undercover. It is one of Kim's skills that he reveals in a matter-of-fact fashion the difference between the public images of his characters and the lives they lead in their heads, in seedy motel rooms, prosaic offices, schools, and even in shootouts on the beach. Kim never shows his cards early, and as he makes each reveal, the tension and angst increase. By the end of "Republic," the undercover agent in each character has been exposed and each character squirms in the unexpected light.
Kim's writing is razor-sharp. Any reader who has been faced with the threat of loss will recognize Kim's description of the "premature nostalgia" that such a threat engenders. His writing about this general condition is specific and clever. A good example of Kim's specific descriptive ability is when he describes the illicit but often silly (and still dead-serious) thrill that comes with youthful rebellion:
For Southern youth in their early twenties, having been indoctrinated in anti-Communist education in schools, speaking this way felt vulgar, much like hearing a prim woman refer to a penis as a cock. At first, it was difficult for them to refer to the two heads of state as Dear Leader or The General, but once they did, they shivered with the excitement that came with breaking the law.
That's a passage that brilliantly outlines the borders and overlaps between "Big R" rebellion and the "Little R" rebellion of all young rebels. "Republic" is full of this kind of brilliant writing.
Which leads to a word related to translation: Kim Chi-young, who translated "Republic," has done a job that even surpasses her previous excellent translation of "A Toy City." Kim Chi-young is one of the few translators whose name alone, on a dustcover, would persuade me to purchase an unknown book.
This is an outstanding book and as the important threads tie together at the conclusion it moves at relentless speed. "Your Republic is Calling You" is taut, engaging, ironic, scathing, brutal and resigned in turns. The last 40 pages are exceptionally tightly written and the screws tighten, page by page, as life and a history of subterranean decisions conspire to strangle the lives of all the "agents" of the story.
In a brief coda Kim leaves us with a vision of a "new day" that can be read as ironic, hopeful or merely repetitive - In a world where everyone is a tout and `hopeful' is lagging at the rail.
He loves his family, but there's not a lot of communication going between husband-wife (and his wife definitely has her own issues) and father-daughter (who, as a teenager, is just starting to really deal with, among other things - boys! But, at least Dad tries...) He is a man, seemingly worn down by life and work.
Until he gets the call to 'return home' from the North. Things begin to 'heat up' at that point. I suggest that you read for yourself.
I like to believe that she loves her family, but that doesn't come through in this book, as she is always too tired, or pre-occupied with her own problems (and she has a...problem - though some might argue). What she appears to want and/or need is...love. She doesn't seem to be getting it at home, so...(you know the rest). Again, I suggest that you read for yourself.
She struck me as a typical teenager, she's very intelligent, but she's also stumbling, with a particular guy no less. It's funny how she deduces his character, and is determined to...help him (mother him, in my opinion), maybe to compensate for what she doesn't get at home. She's definitely the most normal of the three.
Honestly, the end chapters confused me to the point where I had to read them again. My confusion, he was discovered, but truly, who discovered him? The South? Or, had the North been watching him for the longest time and let him operate? I'll have to figure it out I guess...(don't want to give anything away!)
Overall, I liked the book, and would recommend as a 'change of pace' (as it's part spy novel, love story, teen story - not recommended for young teens however, as it does get pretty racy in parts!)
My rating: Four stars!
First off, it's a character-driven story chock-full of social commentary. The almost dozen supporting characters have plenty of back story and Kim boldly expounds upon each person's "undercover" life that he or she carries with them. Some are full of heartbreak, others are full of debauchery. Either way, it's a grippingly woven web of interrelated events miraculously occurring throughout the span of a single day. Everyone, it seems, has an undercover life, so to say, and the spy theme extends well beyond the protagonist.
Speaking of whom, Ki-Yong isn't your archetypal spy. He wasn't genetically engineered to possess superhuman perception skills or advanced martial arts training. He's just good at laying low, blending in, and not making a scene. After twenty years in North Korea, he infiltrated the South in the 80s and successfully gathered and reported data for some time. After his supervisor was ousted, time passed and soon his liaison office seemed to forget about Ki-Yong's quiet but secret existence. Eventually, his undercover life became his real life and he quietly settled into a uneventful middle-class actuality that feels more and more like reality. However, after a decade of no communication, he suddenly receives an encrypted message to return "home". He wonders if the message is intended to save his life from the South Korean government's persistent investigators or to bring him home in order to punish him for lazily adhering to his new capitalist lifestyle. The reader then follows Ki-Yong as he reacts to the news and tries to make sense of his former identity.
This is Kim Young-ha's fourth novel, which was originally published in 2006 under the title "Empire of Light". I enjoyed Kim's portrayal of cultural identity crisis and applaud the translator for making it not only a salient ride, but also lots of fun. I recommend it for anyone looking at a unique take on South Korea's rapid commercialization and/or cultural identity confusion within Korea. Two thumbs up.