Folklorn

Angela Mi Young Hur. Erewhon, $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-64566-016-3
Blurring the lines between sci-fi and fantasy, Hur’s sophomore novel (after The Queens of K-Town) offers a complex meditation on intergenerational trauma. While working at the Amundsen Scott South Pole Station, Korean-American physicist Elsa Park suffers sudden tinnitus and sees her imaginary friend from childhood. This sparks memories of the time Elsa’s mother gave her a now lost collection of four Korean folktales and warned her that all the women in their family are doomed to live out their plots. To understand what’s happening to her, Elsa consults Oskar Gantelius, a Swedish Korean adoptee and linguistics professor who specializes in Korean folktales and also serves as Elsa’s love interest, though their relationship is given little development. But before the pair can make sense of Elsa’s episodes, her mother dies, driving Elsa to find the folktales and figure out how to apply them to her own life. The honest look at prickly Elsa’s internalized racism is ambitious but often brutal in its unflinching execution, and the third act twist relies on an outdated take on mental illness. Despite the unconvincing romance between Oskar and Elsa, their conversations on minority life in majority white spaces are painfully accurate. This thought-provoking work will appeal to SFF fans who like their talk of particle physics side by side with fox spirits and fairy tales. Agent: Sarah Bedingfield, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/06/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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