Title: Vogel (Eng: The Bird) Translators: Remco Beunker / Imke van Gardingen
Author: Oh Jung-hee
Genre: Fiction / Literary Pages: 159
First published: 1996
Edition: Hardback in Dutch, published by De Geus/Oxfam Novib in 2007
After the death of their mother, U-mi and her little brother, U-il, are shuttled between relatives until their father retrieves them. He puts the children in the care of a young stepmother, fresh from a brothel, who looks after them during the week while he works at a remote building site.
I am sure this little South-Korean novel has literary merit, but it really was not for me. It was written in a style that reminds me of the books I had to read for school. Therefore it felt too much like a chore to read it. Luckily it was only short, otherwise I would likely not have finished it.
I did not like the characters or the story itself. Some grim things happened that I really did not want to read about. I understand what the author was trying to show, highlighting the effects the economic change in South-Korea had on the lives of the poor, but I really disliked the style. For me it did not delve deep enough and the story never felt quite engaging enough. I understand why it had a child narrator, but it just did not work for me.
I do want reiterate that this is a matter of personal taste and this is by no means a bad novel. It just really did not sit well with me.
2 out of 7 stars