Drifting House
Krys Lee

Viking House
Hardcover/224 pages
ISBN: 978-0-670-02325-7
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"… extraordinary short stories plotted in Korea and United States …"

Emerging, and strikingly talented, writer Krys Lee launches a set of extraordinary short stories plotted in Korea and United States with extraordinary and believable characters stripped down to their most vulnerable emotional core and in the rawest of circumstances.

In the title story, Drift House, three young children demonized with hunger search for their mother along a passageway to China. They pass a house that “loomed like ghosts,” and the statue of Kim II-sung near a public square where two men, “necklaces of bones,” have been hanged for cannibalizing their parents. Lee vividly portrays the psychological tragic transformation of those dying from starvation and humanizes familiar news reports about the famine in North Korea.

In Temporary Marriage, Lee depicts the painful readjustment of Koreans who have migrated to the United States. The Korean engineer’s wife who has abandoned him for an American she met in salsa class. Seeking new companionship, Mr. Rhee enters into an odd agreement with Mrs. Shin who had paid handsomely for a “K- fiancée visa” to venture from Seoul to the U.S. “I’m not looking for a real husband,” she announces upon her arrival. “Her words clicked like stilettos on tile.” Her true motive is distressing.

Unafraid to delve into the most sinister of human behavior, Lee’s characters include a loving daughter who satisfies her father’s sexual needs after his wife is sent to asylum for murder. In another haunting story, Goose Father, (a term used to describe men who send money overseas) Gilho Pak, shaped by tradition and strong financial obligations to his family living in America, tragically falls in love with his new tenant, a young man who arrives with a “goose” as if mocking Gilho.

Born in Seoul and raised in the United states, Lee’s edgy prose reflects an honest and genuine insight into Koreans whose lives have been transformed by the political and social changes of the postwar era and modern times.

Reviewer: Kate Padilla