Synopses & Reviews
"The Guide" is a former South Korean dissident and tour guide who speaks a fluid fabricated language; "the Historian" interviews the Guide and annotates the commentaries. Cathy Park Hong's passionate and artful poem sequence weaves an ultimately revitalizing dialogue on shared experience in a globalized world, using language as subversion and disguise.
"This deeply political Barnard Women Poets Prize winning second book is part poetic sequence, part science fiction: in a future city called the Desert a Vegas-like manmade tourist trap a character called the Guide shows another, the Historian, the sights. The Guide has survived the historical Kwangju uprising, a 1980 massacre of students and other prodemocracy protesters by the American-backed South Korean dictatorship. The Guide's speeches all in verse turn repeatedly to her own life story, detailed in a superbly invented dialect, based on English but incorporating Spanish and Jamaican patois: 'I'mma double migrant,' the Guide says. 'Ceded from Koryo [Korea], 'ceded from/ Merikka.' The 'Dance Dance Revolution' the Guide has seen described, vaguely, late (perhaps too late) in the book, and named for, but supposedly unrelated to, the popular video game thus becomes 'Kwangju Replayed,' another failed attempt to destroy an undemocratic capitalist system. The Historian's own reflective autobiography, presented in a terse, melodic prose, brings in other examples of global horrors (Sierra Leonean amputees) as it mirrors a reader's own unease. Hong's earlier treatment of Korean-American themes in Translating Mo'um attracted some attention, but nothing could have predicted this admittedly flawed but highly original work: hard to excerpt, hard at times to decode, it's even harder to forget." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The mixture of imagination, language, and historical consciousness in this book is marvelous."--Adrienne Rich, Barnard Women Poets Prize citation
Named one of the Los Angeles Times's Best Science Fiction Books in 2007, Dance Dance Revolutionis a genre-bending tour de force told from the perspective of the Guide, a former dissident and tour guide of an imagined desert city.
Adrienne Rich chose Cathy Park Hong's "audacious" (Los Angeles Times) second book as the winner of the 2006 Barnard Women Poets Prize.
About the Author
Cathy Park Hong is the author of Translating Mo'um and Dance Dance Revolution and has won a Pushcart Prize and the Barnard Women Poets Prize. She lives in New York and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.