The title of Sonya Chung’s exquisite novel, Long for This World, seems to be missing a word: “not long for this world” would be the easy, expected phrase. But little is ‘easy’ or ‘expected’ in this multilayered story of two brothers – one Korean, the other who chooses to become Korean American – and their scattered families whose lives converge in the perfectly blended east/west house on a faraway Korean island. Unplanned and unexpected, Han Hyun-ku arrives at his younger brother’s home, escaping his American life circumscribed by a detached wife and troubled son. His exhausted daughter Jane, a renowned photojournalist of death and destruction, follows her missing father. Strangers that they are even among family, father and daughter are gratefully absorbed into a seemingly easy rhythm, but the temporary peace cannot ease inevitable tragedy. “Some people are not long for this world,” Jane remarks. “The rest of us survive.”
Verdict: Readers who enjoyed superbly crafted, globetrotting family sagas such as Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows, Naeem Murr’s The Perfect Man, or Chang-rae Lee’s A Gesture Life will swoon over Chung’s breathtaking debut.
Tidbit: Chung’s got a haunting book trailer up … and it ends with a quote from ME! How cool is that??!! Click here for trailer link.