How friendship, European literature, and a charismatic professor defy war, oppression, and the absurd
Set in 1980s South Korea amid the tremors of political revolution, "I'll Be Right There" follows Jung Yoon, a highly literate, twenty-something woman, as she recounts her tragic personal history as well as those of her three intimate college friends. When Yoon receives a distressing phone call from her ex-boyfriend after eight years of separation, memories of a tumultuous youth begin to resurface, forcing her to re-live the most intense period of her life. With profound intellectual and emotional insight, she revisits the death of her beloved mother, the strong bond with her now-dying former college professor, the excitement of her first love, and the friendships forged out of a shared sense of isolation and grief.
Yoon's formative experiences, which highlight both the fragility and force of personal connection in an era of absolute uncertainty, become immediately palpable. Shin makes the foreign and esoteric utterly familiar: her use of European literature as an interpreter of emotion and experience bridges any gaps between East and West. Love, friendship, and solitude are the same everywhere, as this book makes poignantly clear.
About the Author
Gong Ji-young is one of Korea's most beloved and critically acclaimed novelists. She has sold more than 10 million books in South Korea alone. Her awards include the 2011 Yisand Literary Award, the 21st Century Literary Award, the Korean Novel Prize, Special Media Award, and Amnesty Interna-tional for "Our Happy Times". This is Gong's first novel to be translated into English. Her books are published in China, Thailand, Japan, and the UK.
"The shimmering, lucid tones and silver melancholy of I'll Be Right There give readers a South Korea peopled with citizens fighting for honor and intellectual freedom, and longing for love and solace. Kyung-Sook Shin’s characters have unforgettable voices—it’s no wonder she has so many fans.” —Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here and National Book Award Finalist
“A wonderful, heartbreaking story that lingered with me long after the last page was turned. As the powerful story unfolded, I enjoyed peeling away the complicated, dark layers of every character. Kyung-sook Shin’s beautiful depictions of love and sweet adolescent confessions will take you back in time to your first heartbreak.” —PP Wong, Editor-in-Chief, Banana Writers
"Tender and mournful, the latest novel from best-selling South Korean novelist Shin (Please Look after Mom, 2011) considers young love and loss in an era of political ferment...Shin's uncomplicated yet allusive narrative voice delivers another calmly affecting story, simultaneously foreign and familiar." –Kirkus
"Shin's perspective on relationships is nuanced; she doesn't shy away from what is complex, complicated or painful in everyday human connections...There is also vibrancy and richness in the lives of her characters, and an understanding of love and solitude that is universal." —Electric Literature
"Spectacular...Shin’s searing, immediate prose will remind readers of Nadeem Aslam’s The Blind Man’s Garden, Edwidge Danticat’sThe Dew Breaker, and Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love, and their stories of ordinary lives trapped in extraordinary sociopolitical circumstances." —BookDragon
"Shin can suggest profound implications in restrained detail, and though the story ends in tragedy, her frequent references to both Eastern and Western literature testify to the duty to hope and stay alive." —Publishers Weekly
“Kyung-Sook Shin has seen much success abroad, but [I’ll Be Right There] is her first novel to find it in America. The novel follows two couples in the very turbulent 1980′s South Korea. As one review states, “tension and sadness are the prevailing emotions,” and it could not be more true. The young lovers go through much, from being drawn into student protests against the South Korean government, to being recruited into the army, the book does end in tragedy. But what a gorgeous journey it is.” –FemaleINTEL