To Kill a Tiger: A Memoir of Korea

Overview

An unforgettable memoir weaving the author's childhood with five generations of Korean history

Against the backdrop of modern Korea's violent and tumultuous history, To Kill A Tiger is a searing portrait of a woman and a society in the midst of violent change. Drawing on Korean legend and myth, as well as an Asian woman's unique perspective on the United States, Lee weaves her compelling personal narrative with a collective and accessible history of modern Korea, from Japanese ...

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To Kill a Tiger: A Memoir of Korea

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Overview

An unforgettable memoir weaving the author's childhood with five generations of Korean history

Against the backdrop of modern Korea's violent and tumultuous history, To Kill A Tiger is a searing portrait of a woman and a society in the midst of violent change. Drawing on Korean legend and myth, as well as an Asian woman's unique perspective on the United States, Lee weaves her compelling personal narrative with a collective and accessible history of modern Korea, from Japanese colonialism to war-era comfort women, from the genocide of the Korean War to the government persecution and silence of Cold War-era pogroms. The ritual of storytelling, which she shares with the women of her family, serves as a window into a five-generation family saga, and it is through storytelling that Lee comes to appreciate the sacrifices of her ancestors and her own now American place in her family and society.

In To Kill A Tiger Lee provides a revelatory look at war and modernization in her native country, a story of personal growth, and a tribute to the culture that formed her.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Memoir of growing up female in the male-dominated Korean culture of the 1960s and '70s. Lee's grim book borrows its title from a myth that one of her grandmothers-many greats removed-sacrificed herself to be eaten alive by a tiger in exchange for her descendents' prosperity. The author grew up feeling equally constrained, as if she had been swallowed, oppressed by gross gender inequality and verbal abuse. Lee (English/Middle Tennessee State Univ.; From the Promised Land to Home: Trajectories of Selfhood in Asian-American Women's Autobiography, 1998) structures the narrative chronologically, beginning with her memories of early life in Taegu, where her family struggled to make ends meet. Lee also had close brushes with violence, both in and outside of her home, and once witnessed a group of boys stoning an abandoned baby to death. Filled with secondhand tales about family members she's never met, the chapters fail to connect with each other. An unsuccessful revolutionary, her embittered, tyrannical father was obsessed with replacing the dynasty with a republic, spewing invective toward the United States and scathing disregard toward women. In at attempt to "surpass Mother and Grandmother in self-denial," Lee beginning starving herself from a young age. She regretted not having been born a boy and did poorly in school. In 1969 the beleaguered family moved to Seoul, and Lee cuts back and forth between rough-hewn descriptions of their domestic life, including her sister's joyless marriage to a man chosen by their father, and her views on the country's government, Christianity, socialist feminists and the educational system. In 1980, after graduating from college, she moved to New York,becoming a U.S. citizen in 1989. A bleak, disappointingly facile portrait.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590202661
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/3/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,449,994
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jid Lee came to the United States as an inter-national student and became a citizen in 1989. She holds degrees in English from Korea University, SUNY Albany, and the University of Kansas. She is the author of the book From the Promised Land to Home and a tenured professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University.
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Table of Contents

A Note on Authenticity 9

A Woman Who Wished to Be Eaten Alive by a Tiger 11

The Stolen Grapes 16

My Little Dog 28

Love Thy Enemy,They Say 35

Peppers 45

Exiled in His Own Country 62

Stealing a Dream 75

The Good Vampires 80

Summer Perils 88

Under the Gun 101

Dead Man Speaks 112

Shakespeare on a Grass Roof 122

Love in a Dust Storm 144

To Seoul 156

A Woman Who Flew Down from the Moon 166

My Mother's Daughter 188

Aunt Minsoon, the Comfort Woman 208

Women Whose Marriages to the Gods Were Successful 227

Battle Fatigue 241

They Were Nice Fellows 262

No Gun Ri 267

Conjure the Devil 274

Lucid Dreaming 285

Homeward Bound 290

Love Made Me Grow Tall 306

My Father's Daughter 313

An Amaryllis in a Stone Field 326

Hope for Reunion 333

No-Name State 341

Acknowledgments 345

Index 347

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 4, 2010

    An emotionally connected memoir

    In this memoire you can enjoy the vision of the protagonist Jid Lee; she reflects, in part, changes in the life of a Korean woman. Her passions and her determination to be free are the creative forces that produce her success and achievements in life.
    The intensity of drama in To Kill a Tiger can be compared with the best operas in the world. Reading this book I learned how sweeping historical forces between North and South Korea shaped and directed everyday life on the Korean Peninsula. The author of To Kill a Tiger depicts vividly the poverty, humiliation and suffering experienced by the ordinary Korean citizen as a result of foreign empires attempts to conquer and control the lands of the Korean people.
    This book captures the story of Korea through the memory of a child who grew up in a middle class family with values derived from Confucianism. She learns how her country heroically overcomes pain and loss set upon it by outside invaders. She is determined to be different, to be free and give testimony of what she knows about her country's history. Jid Lee learns to master the English language and records her painful yet triumphant journey in life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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