I absolutely adored this book, I just gobbled it up. This historical fiction novel charts the changes in one Korean man’s life from the early 1940s (occupation era Korea) through the civil war and into the murky (and terrifying) political landscape aftermath. Wow, what a read, I learned so much!
The Great Homecoming by Anna Kim – BLURB
1959, Seoul. Divided from his family by the violent tumult of the Korean civil war, Yunho arrives in South Korea’s capital searching for his oldest friend. He finds him in the arms of Eve Moon, a dancer with many names who may be a refugee fleeing the communist North, or an American spy. Beguiled, Yunho falls desperately in love. But nothing in Seoul is what it seems. The city is crowded with double agents and soldiers, and wracked by protests and poverty, while across the border, Pyongyang grows more prosperous by the day. When a series of betrayals and a brutal crime drive the three friends into exile, Yunho finds himself caught in the riptide of history. Might a homecoming to North Korea be salvation?
(Blurb taken from Goodreads)
BOOK REVIEW: The Great Homecoming
This was my latest read and I absolutely adored it. This historical fiction novel charts the changes in one Korean man’s life from the early 1940s (occupation era Korea) through the civil war and into the murky (and terrifying) political landscape aftermath.
I feel like Korea was as much a character in this book as the narrator, and the novel covers a vast time period and huge amount of historical detail, following side characters into their back stories, charting the rise and fall of leaders, governments and political parties and exploring the every day lives of those swept up in such turbulent and dangerous times.
I’ve seen some negative reviews for this novel based on the huge amount of historical detail contained within it, and I understand some readers may not like the shifts between a fictional narrative and then almost nonfiction historical sections, but for me this really worked. I really think it will come down to personal taste though.
I really love Korean history and while I know a decent amount about Joseon Korea and even the occupation era, I realised I knew practically nothing at all about more modern Korean history, including the Korean War and the dictatorship government that formed in the South. Reading this book was such a gripping and eye opening experience.
My favourite thing about this novel was how the author would explain history in a way that had me believing I knew who was good or bad, and then she would immediately weave a different side to that story, reminding me once again of something that of course I already knew … History is never simple, there are so many shades of grey to both sides, and it is always dirty.
I loved this book.
I am not certain it is a story for everyone, but if you are interested in Korean history and want to know more about Korea between 1940 and the 1970s (and, like me, you enjoy learning about history specifically through fiction rather than non fiction – I don’t know why!) then I definitely recommend this book.
I loved everything about it!