Krys Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea (and lives there now), but raised in the United States and educated in England. Her global upbringing has clearly influenced her writing: she was a finalist for Best New American Voices in 2006, and her work has appeared in many literary magazines in both the U.S. and Korea. Her debut short story collection, Drifting House, includes two of those previously published works, as well as seven more original stories.
These powerful stories vary in setting and focus, but they all offer a glimpse into Korean culture and politics--often simultaneously revealing the effects of American influence, regardless of whether the characters remain in Korea or settle in the States. In the sparse and emotionally wrought story that gives the collection its title, siblings attempt to outrun famine in North Korea while being forced to make unbearable sacrifices. Before that, though, the first story, "A Temporary Marriage," effectively describes the new world created by two strangers from South Korea who come together after immigrating to California. In "The Salaryman," a middle-class, middle-aged man suffers the effects of downsizing during South Korea's financial crisis, with haunting consequences. Yet while these and other stories touch upon recent Korean history, they are timeless in their sway on the reader. Fans of Jhumpa Lahiri or Chang-rae Lee will want to add this debut to their reading list. --Roni K. Devlin, owner of Literary Life Bookstore & More