The year was 1910 and the birth of a first child should have been a cause for celebration for the Han family. Instead Calligrapher Han is filled with such dread about the state of his country–Korea, which had just been annexed by Japan–that he can’t even name his first-born.
And so the story of the Han family begins in The Calligrapher’s Daughter, the first book written by Eugenia Kim. While it is historical fiction, the novel is based on the lives of Eugenia’s mother and father. It chronicles the family from 1910 through the end of World War II, but focuses mainly on Najin, as the main character is finally named. Najin’s story pulls you in as you see her mother fight for Najin to be educated and resist early marriage, all while their country is in a constant state of flux under the occupation of the Japanese.
I admit to being a history buff so I found this novel intriguing, especially since it is based on the lives of the author’s parents. But I think anyone with an interest in Korea would find this a hard-to-put-down read.
If you want a sneak peek, visit the book’s Web site, which includes photos of the author’s family.