Synopses & Reviews
“Kim takes a small moment of Korean history . . . and transforms this moment into a powerful, sweeping epic that resonates across continents and oceans, bridging East and West . . . The scope and breadth of Kim’s talent is evident on every page of this breathtaking novel.” —List
In 1904, as the Russo-Japanese War deepened, Asia was parceled out to rising powers and the Korean empire was annexed by Japan. Facing war and the loss of their nation, more than a thousand Koreans left their homes to seek possibility elsewhere—in unknown Mexico.
After a long sea voyage, these emigrants—thieves and royals, priests and soldiers, orphans and entire families—disembark with the promise of land. Soon they discover the truth: they have been sold into indentured servitude.
Aboard ship, an orphan, Ijeong, fell in love with the daughter of a noble; separated when the various haciendados claim their laborers, he vows to find her. After years of working in the punishing heat of the henequen fields, the Koreans are caught in the midst of a Mexican revolution. Some flee with Ijeong to Guatemala, where they found a New Korea amid Mayan ruins.
A tale of star-crossed love, political turmoil, and the dangers of seeking freedom in a new world, Black Flower is an epic story based on a little-known moment in history.
"Kim stumbled upon a little-known piece of history during a conversation on a trans-Pacific flight. This history was so fascinating, he wanted to base a novel on it. This is that novel. From the broad sweep of history to insightful and convincing individual instances of self-discovery, this book develops on many levels and shines a light on issues of gender, class, religious and racial conflicts, and the ways that disparate cultures clash and sometimes meld... Readers who remember the historical fiction of Thomas B. Costain, Zoe Oldenbourg and Anya Seton will appreciate the extensive research and empathic imagination that went into this novel." —Kirkus "This sprawling epic novel dips heavily into the concurrent Mexican revolution and the treatment of the Mayans. Spare and beautiful, Kim's novel offers a look at the roots of the little-known tribulations of the Korean diaspora in Mexico." —Publishers Weekly, boxed and starred review "[Black Flower] shines light on how immigrants coped during a terrible historical moment." —Booklist "Kim Young-ha takes a small moment of Korean history, when 1,033 Koreans embarked as contracted laborers in Mexico on April 4, 1905, and transforms this moment into a powerful, sweeping epic that resonates across continents and oceans, bridging East and West . . . Kim seamlessly weaves the history and the social structure of Mexico into the story of the Koreans, a story of exploitation and greed, while he also shows the resiliency and dignity of the Korean characters who adapt to the harsh conditions and cope as best they can . . . The scope and breadth of Kim Young-has talent is evident on every page of this breathtaking novel . . . This novel engages, informs, and in a paraphrase of Kafka, breaks the frozen sea within us." —List Magazine
Chang-rae Lee, the bestselling and award-winning author of Native Speaker, A Gesture Life, and Aloft returns with his most ambitious novel yet-a spellbinding story of how love and war echo through an entire lifetime.
June Han was orphaned as a girl by the Korean War. Hector Brennan was a young GI who fled the petty tragedies of his small town to serve his country. When the war ended, their lives collided at a Korean orphanage, where they vied for the attention of Sylvie Tanner, a beautiful yet deeply damaged missionary.
As Lee masterfully unfurls the stunning story of June, Hector, and Sylvie, he weaves a profound meditation on the nature of heroism and sacrifice, the power of love, and the possibilities for mercy, salvation, and surrendering oneself to another.
Black Flower puts a fictional spin on a little-known moment when thousands of Koreans fled political upheaval and the fall of their empire to seek land and freedom in Mexico, found themselves bonded laborers on its plantations, and eventually started a revolution that led briefly to a "new Korea."
About the Author
Chang-rae Lee is the author of Native Speaker, winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN/Hemingway Award for first fiction; A Gesture Life; Aloft; The Surrendered, winner of the Dayton Peace Prize and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and On Such a Full Sea. Selected by The New Yorker as one of the "20 Writers for the 21st Century," Chang-rae Lee is Professor professor in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and the a Shinhan Distinguished Visiting Professor at Yonsei University.