The Old Garden

Hwang Sok-Yong, Author, Sog-Yong Hwang, Author, Jay Oh, Translator . Seven Stories $35 (520p) ISBN 978-1-58322-899-9

In his most autobiographical work, veteran Korean novelist and former political prisoner Sok-Yong writes about a recently freed prisoner reflecting on his life through the letters of an old lover. Following an 18-year sentence, Oh Hyun Woo discovers that his former lover, Han Yoon Hee, has died. Oh returns to Kalmae, where they lived together, and discovers Yoon Hee's journals and letters to him. From there, the narrative combines Oh's memories and Yoon Hee's, often flowing seamlessly between the two. Yoon Hee's letters to Oh are layered in rich details and life-changing revelations, suggesting she knows all along that these letters will one day be all that's left of their relationship. Sok-Yong's attention to detail is especially powerful in Oh's descriptions of prison life and returning to the outside world, like “waking up from a nap at the end of a summer day when the sun is setting.” Oh and Yoon Hee's languid, heartbreaking tales of loss and waiting complement each other beautifully, evoking the spirit of Love in the Time of Solitude . (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/20/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
Show other formats
Hardcover - 480 pages - 978-1-58322-872-2
Hardcover - 480 pages - 978-1-58322-836-4
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