She finally finds a friend in a girl called Namae, until one afternoon changes everything. Following a moment of intimacy in a field of minari (a leafy green perennial herb), Namae violently rejects San, setting her on a troubling path.
It is the 1990s and San is 22, when she happens upon a job at a flower shop in Seoul’s bustling city centre. Over the course of one hazy, volatile summer, San meets a curious cast of characters — the mute shop owner, a brash co-worker, kind farmers and aggressive customers — and fuelled by a quiet desperation to jump-start her life, she plunges headfirst into obsession with a passing magazine photographer. Throughout it all, San’s moment with Namae continues to linger in the back of her mind.
A story of thwarted desire, misogyny and erasure, Kyung-Sook Shin’s ‘Violets’ (W&N) reveals the high stakes involved in one woman’s desperate search for both autonomy and attachment in an unforgiving society.
Kyung-sook Shin is the author of numerous works of fiction and is one of South Korea’s most widely read and acclaimed novelists. She has been honored with the Manhae Literature Prize, the Dong-in Literature Prize, and the Yi Sang Literary Prize, as well as France’s Prix de l’Inapereu. She won the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012 for ‘Please Look After Mom’, her first book to appear in English. (IANS)