Five Preludes & A Fuge by Emily Yae Won

(Yeoyu - new voices Korea #1)

This was a spectacular book! My emotions were swung from one extreme to the next as the story was slowly unwound for me though letters. I enjoyed this novella in an ESLITE tea shop with a wonderful view of Taipei 101 near Sun-Yat Sen MRT. It was a perfect reading experience for me.

I don’t want to give too much away in this book, so I’ll tease you with the publisher’s description of this book.

A young woman delves into the circumstances of her mother’s death ahead of her own marriage, interrogating a woman who witnessed her mother’s death and would later come to play a crucial role in her life.

The letters beautifully tease out the relationship between the two characters. Once it finishes you’re left with tears in your eyes and deeply satisfied how it turned out.

An exploration of the human (in)capacity for (self-)deception and knowledge, the story offers a nuanced portrait of contemporary (Korean) social mores. As with all Cheon’s work to date this beautifully crafted story places women at its core, and explores form and genre (in this case epistolatory) while subtly weaving into the text a deep interrogation of social issues.

This certainly rings true after finishing the book. The book takes lots of turns from the strange beginning and the relationship of the letter writers becomes more clear. I like how the author just gives us little bits of information at a time, and as we learn more, our previous assumptions and expectations are turne don their head. Now go read the book, and don’t forget that box of tissues!

I have also reviewed other books in the Yeoyu - new voices Korea series

Rating: ★★★★★

Book #9 in my 2022 Reading Challenge

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