Before her grandfather died he built a temple in the mountains and planted 1000 chestnut trees as protection. He never lived to see his graddaughter but his trees called her back to Korea, back to find the hidden temple.
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How best to prepare for a trip to Korea? Forget the kimchi experiments and immerse yourself in a novel that's thick with the people, the history, and the feel of Korea. Mira Stout's protagonist is Anna (based loosely on Stout herself), a young artist who lives in New York and feels lost. Knowing little about her Boston Irish father and her Korean mother, and less still about Korea, she decides to journey to Korea, as Mira Stout herself did, to try to make sense of the random jigsaw pieces of her background--tidbits like the story of her great-grandfather, once the ruler of Kangwon Province, who was stripped of land and title by the invading Japanese and ordered a temple be built atop the highest mountain amidst 1,000 chestnut trees. In the novel, Anna's Korean curiosity begins as a teenager, when Uncle Hong-do arrives from Korea to visit Anna's mother, the sister he never met. Years later, Anna turns to Korea as an answer to her feelings of existential angst, retracing her mother's steps in an effort "to see my family undie." Told in her voice as well as her mother's and grandfather's, what you get is a stirring novel that combines Korea's epic history with a family legacy and a personal exploration. A fine read whether you're going to Korea or lounging in your living room, Stout's story is engrossing and educational.About the Author:
MIRA STOUT has written two novels and a play. One Thousand Chestnut Trees is her internationally acclaimed first novel. It was nominated for the IMPAC award, was the first runner up for the Shiva Naipaul Award and was chosen for the New York Public Library 'Books for the New Year'. Her long-awaited second novel, Moon Trees is soon to be published. Her first play, A Cool Dry Place was developed by The National Theatre Studio and by The Old Vic. Her work has been featured widely across the media spectrum, from The Paris Review to The New York Times and the BBC, among others. She is developing two film projects, and lives in London.
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