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In the Absence of Sun: A Korean American Woman's Promise to Reunite Three Lost Generations of Her Family-Helie Lee

  • Title: In the Absence of Sun: A Korean American Woman's Promise to Reunite Three Lost Generations of Her Family
  • Author: Helie Lee
  • Released: 2002-04-23
  • Language:
  • Pages: 352
  • ISBN: 0609609343
  • ISBN13: 978-0609609347
  • ASIN: 0609609343

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From Publishers Weekly Lee's bestselling debut, Still Life with Rice (1996), created quite a stir. It chronicled Lee's grandmother's 1950 escape from northern to southern Korea during a civil war that separated the Koreas and tore Lee's grandmother's family apart, as her eldest son, Lee Yong Woon, did not make it out of the north. Lee (who was born in Seoul, South Korea, and now lives in Los Angeles) used her uncle's real name in Still Life and included his picture. Once that book became available in South Korea, Lee's family was notified that her book had placed her relatives in North Korea in danger. Nonetheless, Lee promised her grandmother that she would see her son again, thus undertaking a daring mission chronicled here to reunite the family. The account is a gripping and inspiring one, and Lee's prose resonates with a poetic sensibility. She also brings a distinctly American perspective to the entire situation. At times, the author's desire to make the story her own (including a long segue into her relationship with her boyfriend) steal some of the swiftness and urgency from a story that ultimately belongs to her entire family. But an all-out thrilling escape story, complete with dangerous border crossings, unexpected romance and touching family moments, makes for a terrific and beautiful chronicle. Lee reflects, "I believe one family, one person, one action can make a difference, because we are all connected. When we realize this connection, peace is possible." B&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal Young, hip, and successful, Lee lives in Los Angeles, has written a best-selling book (Still Life with Rice), and has a rich boyfriend in Hong Kong. But she still had something she wanted to accomplish: to reunite Grandmother Halmoni with the last of her sons, the one still in North Korea. Time was of the essence since Halmoni was in her mid-eighties and weakening. The project demanded detailed planning, four long trips, dangerous bribery, and many hardships, along with endless delays, unexpected events, and unremitting anxiety. To relate her experience, Lee uses an overwrought style that makes us wonder whether she is exaggerating (are economy-class seats on airplanes that horrible?), but her story and background information on conditions and places in China and Korea are compelling and truthful. We learn a lot about Lee herself, especially her love life, and about being Korean American. Recommended. Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. pdf
 
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