cover image Concerning My Daughter

Concerning My Daughter

Kim Hye-Jin, trans from the Korean by Jamie Chang. Restless, $18 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-63206-349-6

Kim excavates the complexities of a mother and daughter’s relationship in her excellent debut. The unnamed narrator, a widow who works at a nursing home in South Korea, expresses a strong affinity for an elderly dementia patient named Jen. In contrast, the narrator feels only anger and resentment toward her own daughter, Green, who has recently moved back in with her, along with Green’s apparent lover, Lane, despite never asking permission to bring him along. Underlying the narrator’s anxiety is a sense of invisibility or smallness, which comes through in her stream-of-consciousness inner monologue as she deals with the pain caused by missteps and miscommunications between her and Green, who rejects her hope for her to have a husband and children. “Ma, Lane is my family,” Green says. Later, while working with Jen, her mother thinks, “What’s the use of family? We all end up the same way.” Kim skillfully depicts the vulnerability and fear underlying her protagonist’s anxiety and anger, laying bare the ways in which family dynamics are fluid and full of paradoxes. As the narrator reflects, “The child who sprang from my own flesh and blood is perhaps the creature I’m most distant from.” Kim’s compassionate portrayal of the narrator’s contradictions and ever-changing feelings makes her project captivating and moving. Readers will be grateful to discover this new author. Agent: Marina Penalvin, Casanovas & Lynch. (Sept.)