How friendship, European literature, and a charismatic professor defy war, oppression, and the absurd
Set in 1980s South Korea amid the tremors of political revolution, I’ll Be Right There follows Jung Yoon, a highly literate, twenty-something woman, as she recounts her tragic personal history as well as those of her three intimate college friends. When Yoon receives a distressing phone call from her ex-boyfriend after eight years of separation, memories of a tumultuous youth begin to resurface, forcing her to re-live the most intense period of her life. With profound intellectual and emotional insight, she revisits the death of her beloved mother, the strong bond with her now-dying former college professor, the excitement of her first love, and the friendships forged out of a shared sense of isolation and grief.
Yoon’s formative experiences, which highlight both the fragility and force of personal connection in an era of absolute uncertainty, become immediately palpable. Shin makes the foreign and esoteric utterly familiar: her use of European literature as an interpreter of emotion and experience bridges any gaps between East and West. Love, friendship, and solitude are the same everywhere, as this book makes poignantly clear.
"I fell head over heals for the translated book Please Look After Mom a few years ago, and was extremely happy to find this new one on my desk one day (she has written 17 books, so I'm hoping they will translate them to English too). Her writing is profound in it's quiet beat that still takes you so many places, but still leaving some things to find for yourselves, and much to think about. This book is about a woman mourning her mother's death while all around her there are huge riots. She goes to college sporadically as she becomes more and more involved in the struggles of her few friends. But there is much meaning that hides among the plot that requires careful reading, but that's okay. This is not a book you stay up all night reading. It's a book to savor slowly, pondering things as you go. It's almost a meditation at times, and it's fascinating. I urge you to give it a try."