Sunday Girl - by Kalliope Lee

Traumatic wounds that haunt the blood for generations.

New novel hits on Korea's historical scars with searing insight and stunning prose

Comfort Women. This was the term given to young Korean girls abducted by the Japanese army during World War II to serve as sex slaves for the soldiers. Silenced by shame, it wasn't until 1991 that the first of these comfort women came forward and testified against the army, only to be denied by the Japanese government.

Sunday Girl - by Kalliope Lee

The new psychological thriller Sunday Girl by author Kalliope Lee explores the darker aspects of Korea's turbulent history. Blending elements of supernatural and Gothic in a new and modern way, Lee weaves a mysterious, enthralling world with powerful yet poetic images that comment on human trauma, the political history of Korea, Asian family dynamics and concepts of self. The narrative delves not only into the comfort women controversy, but also the colonization of Korea by Japan and the Korean War, bloody civil strife that created a rift between the Korean people and land--a rift that continues tragically to this day.

Protagonist Sibyl is a Korean-American working in Seoul who narrowly escapes being raped when she is saved by her friend Jang-Mee, taking her place as victim. Dissociating from her body during the crime, Jang-Mee comes into communion with a female spectral presence, who shows herself to be a victim within Korea's past of invasion, division and occupation. Convinced that the image is that of a comfort woman from WWII, Jang-Mee seeks her out again. Both Jang-Mee and then Sibyl must struggle through dark psycho-geographies to transcend past and present, self and other and ultimately life and death.

Jang-Mee's body becomes the metaphor for a raped, pillaged, colonized and subsequently divided Korea," explains Lee. "She knows nothing about her roots, as she grew up in the American Midwest, but an inner directive and longing lure her back to Korea. The psychological consequences of the rape in turn prompt her to attempt to connect with Korea's traumatic history and suffering."

In a fascinating parallel to the true perils that still threaten Korea, Sunday Girl explores the traumatic wounds that haunt the blood for generations. It ventures boldly into cultural taboos about sexuality and unsentimentally depicts repressive attitudes towards women within the patriarchal culture of Korea.

"This inheritance reminded me of the tragic families of Greek tragedies--like the house of Atreus--where a blood curse is passed down through the generations until it's finally broken through one character's sacrifice and suffering," adds Lee. "In Sunday Girl, I reference these classics, directly and obliquely through my characters' dialogue and epic journeying to the Underworld. There are echoes of Orestes and Odysseus and Aeneas in my characters."

The main themes of Sunday Girl that readers will find compelling include:

  • >> An in-depth look at traumatic episodes of Korea's turbulent history
  • >> Jang-Mee's body serving as a metaphor for Korea, and the connection between the female body and the territory of a country
  • >> The notion of education - the difference between 'book' learning and what the ancient Greeks called anamnesis, or recollection of the soul
  • >> The ritualistic, medical, biological, sexual symbolism of blood as it carries our life force and holds the records of our ancestors
  • >> Where there's blood, there's usually some sort of wound - and the redemption that comes through this suffering

Kalliope Lee studied Classical Literatures and Languages as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, focusing on Greek Tragedy and Ancient Greek language. She was the recipient of the Presidential Fellowship to study in the PhD program in Classics at Columbia University. She had begun a PhD in the Classics, and received an MA before going on to get her MFA in the Creative Writing Program at NYU.

Visit our Website:http://www.kalliopelee.com
Sunday Girl can be purchased as an ebook from amazon.com and Smashwords
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