Synopses & Reviews
By Man Asian Literary Prize winner Kyung-Sook Shin, "a moving delve into a lonely psyche" that follows a neglected young woman's search for human connection in contemporary Seoul (YZ Chin).
San is twenty-two and alone when she happens upon a job at a flower shop in Seoul's bustling city center. Haunted by childhood rejection, she stumbles through life — painfully vulnerable, stifled, and unsure. She barely registers to others, especially by the ruthless standards of 1990s South Korea.
Over the course of one hazy, volatile summer, San meets a curious cast of characters: the nonspeaking shop owner, a brash coworker, quiet farmers, and aggressive customers. Fueled by a quiet desperation to jump-start her life, she plunges headfirst into obsession with a passing magazine photographer.
In Violets, best-selling author Kyung-Sook Shin explores misogyny, erasure, and repressed desire, as San desperately searches for both autonomy and attachment in the unforgiving reality of contemporary Korean society.
"With sensuous prose intuitively translated by Hur, Shin vividly captures San's tragic failure to connect with others. This is hard to put down." Publishers Weekly
"Kyung-Sook Shin has a way of seeing past the smooth surface of societal appearance and into the fragile, obscure psychological space that lies just beneath, where her characters ache in ways that feel both recognizable and possessed of deep insight. I don't know if I've ever read a book that so masterfully captures the subtle desperation of seeking a desire that can be your own in a fast-changing world." Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun
"The beauty of Kyung-Sook Shin's prose is in its expert weave of immersion, precision and surprise. The narrative ground of San, our unlikely but necessary heroine, may be fraught with unseen tensions yet the writing is as smooth as a finished surface. Despite being consistently tyrannized and quieted by her surroundings, San carries within her an indefatigable fire, a persistence to be. San represents so many women whose stories are never told." Weike Wang, author of Joan Is Okay
"Violets is an aching, atmospheric novel about grief and longing. Oh San, our main character, navigates a life of haunting loneliness and yet she finds tender moments of true beauty. In this slim and powerful book, Kyung-Sook Shin deftly explores the violence of life — of shedding childhood, of becoming a woman, of searching for identity in a shifting world. A beautiful translation by Anton Hur. Go read this book!" Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me
About the Author
Kyung-Sook Shin is one of South Korea's most widely read and acclaimed novelists. She has been awarded the Man Asian Literary Prize, the Manhae Grand Prize for Literature, the Dong-in Literature Prize, the Yi Sang Literary Prize, and many others, including France's Prix de l'Inaperçu. Shin is the author of multiple books, including The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness, I'll Be Right There, The Court Dancer, and the New York Times-bestselling Please Look After Mom, which has been published in over forty countries.
Anton Hur has won the PEN Translates and PEN/Heim grants for literary translation. His other work includes the English translations of Sang Young Park's Love in the Big City (Grove) and Bora Chung's Cursed Bunny (Honford Star). He resides in Seoul.