Title: Please Look After Mom: a novel
Author: Kyung-sook Shin
Publisher: New York : A.A. Knopf, c2011
Call No.: English SIN
Nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize, Please Look After Mom is a bestselling novel by Shin Kyung-sook, published in 2009, translated in 2011. The title does not shy from its emotional plot; an aged mother with what appears to be Alzheimer’s goes missing in a crowded Seoul train station. How does her estranged children feel? The novel is composed of several perspectives of her family members, each recounting specific instances in the past when Mom acted, well, Mom-like. Her over-protectiveness, her tough love, her resilience… readers get to know this woman without directly confronting her in the novel.
I would go as far as to say that this novel packs a punch. The sort that wrenches your heart out and stabs it a little. The opening line goes, “It’s been one week since Mom went missing.” There is no meandering lead-in to introduce neither the characters nor the setting; we are smacked in the face with the news that Mom is missing, a real nightmare for those of us with aged parents. With each narrator recounting some childhood even, I see a little of my growing up experience in those accounts (albeit not in the exact manner), and this made me feel a little more for this family. Despite this being fictional, I have no problems believing that someone like Mom exists out there. This novel is a compelling read and while at times over-emotional, it is a stark reflection of kinship at its strongest and at its weakest.
The featured book cover is copyright of A.A. Knopf.
Contributed by Lo Wan Ni, Associate Librarians, Public Libraries Singapore