[KS] "Memories of My Ghost Brother" Reissued
fenkli at newpaltz.edu
Fri Dec 9 05:20:20 EST 2005
Dear List Members,
My book, "Memories of My Ghost Brother," has finally been reissued and is
available again for those who want to use it in their courses. I've pasted the
text of the press release below.
(Apologies if you get this twice. I forgot to enter a subject line last time.)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A Korean American Classic Reissued at Last!
MEMORIES OF MY GHOST BROTHER
by Heinz Insu Fenkl
Bo-Leaf Books (www.boleaf.com)
$19.95, 274p, trade paper
My mother lies unconscious in the warm side of the room, dreaming of
springtime in the old city of Seoul. She is walking along a palace wall, on an
avenue white with fallen cherry blossoms. . . . Hearing a strange noise, she
stops to listen. A giant serpent, thick as a pine tree, dangles its head from
atop the palace gate and whispers to her in human speech, I have something
very important to tell you. My mother takes a cautious step forward. But
before the serpent can speak again, she returns to consciousness and, enduring
the last contractions of her day-long labor, she gives birth to me.
So begins this haunting and lyrical narrative that explores the coming of age
of an Amerasian boy in Korea, torn between his mothers worldhaunted by the
specter of Japanese occupations and ruled by the imperatives of the spirit
kingdomand his fathers transplanted America, the local U.S. army base where
GIs are preparing for combat in another Asian nation, Vietnam. Young Insu
grows up in the chaotic streets of Pupyong, among black marketeers,
prostitutes, and their biracial children. Death comes daily to Pupyongthrough
cholera, murder, and fatal accidents, both sad and suspicious; its presence
touches Insus life directly when his beloved aunt commits suicide after being
cast off by her GI lover, and his friend James is found drowned in a sewer.
(Neighborhood gossips accuse Jamess mother, whose pursuit of a new blond
husband would have been hampered by a half-black son.) Although life on the
streets is brutal, and the American school Insu attends no better, his Korean
family provides him with love and the nourishment of stories and laughter.
Like his mother, Insu is attuned to the world of spirits, and he is haunted by
the ghost figure of a young boy, a secret half-brother. When Insu learns the
true identity of his ghost brother, he also makes a painful discovery about
the corrosive prejudices that have torn his family apart.
As an exploration of the Amerasian experience and the troubled legacy
of the U.S. military presence in a country whose war was never officially
over, Memories of My Ghost Brother is a milestone in contemporary literature.
With its ghost stories, folktales, mother-father conflicts, strange joys, and
violent tragedies, Memories of My Ghost Brother recalls such classics as Jerzy
Kosinskis The Painted Bird and Maxine Hong Kingstons The Woman Warrior.
Evocative and compelling, this magnificent work by a gifted writer captures
the mystery, beauty, pain, and lost history of a young boys world.
[U]nsparing....an intimate look at a volatile, rarely glimpsed landscape.
The New Yorker
...stately, mature and understated...written with great sensitivity and
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
What makes this . . . so seductive is Heinz Insu Fenkls marvelous
storytellinghis brutally honest tale of an interstitial childhood spent
between two worlds. . .a cut above the rest in the current literary trend of
Asian American memoirs.
Helen Mitsios, Book World
Think...of James Agees A Death in the Family:...equally lyrical, dreamy, and
Heinz Insu Fenkls Memories of My Ghost Brother is a wonderfully lyrical and
evocative portrait of an extraordinary cultural no-mans land, an area fully
claimed by no ones history. This landscape may seem to be surreal, but it is
all too human.
Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls Rising
Heinz Insu Fenkl weaves a garment of dense magic and power which the reader
dons at his/her own risk. To wear it is to be plunged headlong into a vast,
precise universe, hitherto unknown, the world of a half Korean, half German
child. The voyage is stunning.
Joy Kogawa, author of Obasan
Memories of My Ghost Brother is luminous, subtle, and eminently readablea
pleasure. I detect the ghost brushstrokes of Joan Didion andto borrow a
comparison from the world of filmRenoir. I read the novel all the way through
at once and marveled at its poetry.
Indira Ganesan, author of The Journey
I was reminded of James Joyce, especially Dublinerstheres a similar
mysterious, half-concealed, symbolic, poetic quality about the two. Besides
the way language is used, theres also something about the way an entire
cultural worldor microcosmhas been consumed, digested, and recreated just
so; it gives the prose a pregnant quality, as though it is working its way
aroundor as though its path naturally takes it just aroundthe edge of
something great and sinister...and the readers eyes are fixed on the path and
he catches glimpses of this something out of the corners of his eyes....
Matthew Broersma, author of Insomnia
Vivid, powerful writing...a compelling and poetic portrait of the Amerasian
experience in reconstructionist South Korea.
The San Francisco Review of Books
Heinz Insu Fenkl left Korea when he was twelve. His family eventually settled
in Castroville, California. An award-winning writer and translator, and a
former Fulbright Scholar in Korea, he now teaches creative writing and Asian
literature at the State University of New York in New Paltz. He lives in the
Hudson Valley with his wife and daughter.
Memories of My Ghost Brother was selected by Barnes & Noble as a Discover
Great New Writers book and was featured with a starred review in Publishers
Weekly. It was also a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award in 1996. A Korean
translation is now also available.
For those interested in using the book in their courses, teaching guides
(including a glossary and two supplementary essays) are available from the
authors website. Go to the links page at www.boleaf.com.
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