Author: Kyung-Sook Shin
2-volume set | Hardcover | 196*136mm
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About This Book
The first and much anticipated full-length novel in six years by Shin, one of the most popular and critically acclaimed novelists in Korea since 1990s and author of An Isolated Room, Until It Flows into a River, and Deep Sorrow.
This is the story of Lee Jin, the first royal court dancer from Korea who went to Paris, in the late 19th century, around the time of introduction of Western civilizations into Joseon (Korea). Lee Jin, orphaned young and raised by her neighbor, Mrs. Seo, enters palace as a child attendant. One day, having lost her way in the palace, she catches the attention of the Empress, and under the shower of her affection, grows up to be a royal court dancer, and an attendant taking care of the Empress at her side.
A first-generation French diplomat called Collin de Plancy comes to the court for an audience with the king, and upon seeing the captivating beauty of Lee Jin, falls in love with her at first sight; upon a second encounter with Lee Jin at the royal banquet, as she dances the spring-parrot-dance in a traditional dancer’s outfit, he becomes even more captivated by her beauty. Though well aware that women of the palace belong to the king, Collin confesses to the king his love for Lee Jin after some turmoil, and eventually gaining permission from the king, Lee Jin leaves for France, to an unknown land, with Collin. In Paris, she lives a free, independent life, meeting Hong Jong-wu, the first student to have come from Joseon to study there, and works with him in translating and publishing novels of Joseon into French. A great sorrow awaits her, however. She miscarries her baby. She suffers from depression and even somnambulism, because of her sorrow at the loss, homesickness for Joseon, and a longing for Gang Yeon, a court musician, her old friend since they were children. To ease her homesickness, Collin returns to Joseon with Lee Jin.
Hong Jong-wu returns to Joseon around the same time as well. Resenting Lee Jin for not accepting his love in Paris, he stirs up trouble for Lee Jin. Through his cunning scheme, Collin ends up returning to France, leaving Lee Jin behind, then is sent off to another country, and Gang Yeon leaves as well, his fingers cut off as punishment. Not long after, Japanese swordsmen attack the palace and assassin the Empress. Lee Jin witnesses the murder of the Empress. A few weeks later, she writes a letter to Collin about what happened to the Empress, hoping that he could deliver the truth to the West, dances the spring-parrot-dance one final time, and ends her life, by ripping out one poisoned sheet after another from her French-Korean dictionary and swallowing them.
"A breathtaking beauty"
"A sorrow like hot tears shed through longing lies deep within the sentences." - Chosun Ilbo
"This is a new-age historical novel, different from existing history novels, creating a boom of Korean novels." - Kyunghyang Daily News
About The Author
SHIN Kyong-suk made her literary debut in 1985 when her novella "Winter Fables" won the quarterly Literary Joongang.
She has been awarded the Hanguk Ilbo Literature Award (1993), Today´s Young Artist Award (1993), Hyundae Literature Award (1995), 1996 Manhae Literature Award (1996), Dong-In Literature Award, the 21st Century Literature Award (2000), Isang Literature Award (2001), and Oh Yeongsu Award (2006).
Her works include the short story collections, Till We Becomes a River, Where the Organ Once Was, Potato Eaters, Strawberry Fields, Bells; novels, Deep Sorrow, An Isolated Room, The Train Leaves at Seven, Violet, Lee Jin; essay collections, Beautiful Shadow, Sleep! Sorrow, The House with Mountains, and the House with a Well (co-authored).
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