Interesting story on a little known piece of history. ...Makes me wonder if every major author has at least one work that is historical fiction.Long Review
The backdrop of <> is a departure from Kim's other translated work, shedding light on a relatively obscure piece of Korean and Central American history that brought a small group of Koreans unknowingly into Mexican slavery. The material is presented true to Kim's form, juggling a myriad of backgrounds and motivations that keep the plot moving without getting overly critical or sympathetic to any particular individual. The family historian in me wanted more information from and about the descendants Kim found ten years ago in 2003; wondering what stories got passed down and how much they knew of their (mixed?) cultural background.
The piece that irked me about this newly translated work is just that - the translation. Kim's previous works I have managed to get copies of (<> and <>) were translated by Chi-Young Kim, whilst this work was done by Charles La Shure. There were parts, probably not more than five small lines, which of course I neglected to mark and cannot find now, that were translated with an English turn-of-phrase. I understand that there are many facets to consider when translating an author and that sometimes sacrifices need to be made. (see La Shure's interview here: http://publishingtheworld.com/2013/02/06/5-questions-with-charles-la-shure-translator-from-the-korean/ )
La Shure keeps true to Kim's form and style but these tiny little descriptions feel jarring to the story, reminding me I live in the present and not in this story.
The only other thing about the work that I wasn't in love with were the depictions of battle. This is mainly due to the fact wars and battles, whilst necessary, are simply not interesting to me, whether written or on the screen. Even the best scenes shot with the highest resolution and graphics bores me on the same level that guys feel about chick-flics.