Dance Dance Revolution

Cathy Park Hong, Author . Norton $23.95 (120p) ISBN 978-0-393-06484-1

This deeply political Barnard Women Poets Prize–winning second book is part poetic sequence, part science fiction: in a future city called the Desert—a Vegas-like manmade tourist trap—a character called the Guide shows another, the Historian, the sights. The Guide has survived the historical Kwangju uprising, a 1980 massacre of students and other prodemocracy protesters by the American-backed South Korean dictatorship. The Guide's speeches—all in verse—turn repeatedly to her own life story, detailed in a superbly invented dialect, based on English but incorporating Spanish and Jamaican patois: "I'mma double migrant," the Guide says. "Ceded from Koryo [Korea], "ceded from/ Merikka." The "Dance Dance Revolution" the Guide has seen—described, vaguely, late (perhaps too late) in the book, and named for, but supposedly unrelated to, the popular video game—thus becomes "Kwangju Replayed," another failed attempt to destroy an undemocratic capitalist system. The Historian's own reflective autobiography, presented in a terse, melodic prose, brings in other examples of global horrors (Sierra Leonean amputees) as it mirrors a reader's own unease. Hong's earlier treatment of Korean-American themes in Translating Mo'um attracted some attention, but nothing could have predicted this admittedly flawed but highly original work: hard to excerpt, hard at times to decode, it's even harder to forget. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/16/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 120 pages - 978-0-393-33311-4
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