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Posted July 1, 2007
Why is all Asian and Asian-American fiction about unhappiness and tragedy? I just finished reading a suite of these books, and I'm now in an Asian-American fiction glut. Every single book had undertones of depression and tragedy, and this seems to be a trademark of the genre. As someone with a Korean mother and American father, I admit that I can relate, but it gets really sad after awhile. Nevertheless, this book was an interesting one with a multi-layered storyline about two Korean girls growing up in America (typical), but on top of that they are twins, and one of them is facially disfigured in a childhood accident that really affects her ability to deal with her life (not so typical). That also extends to the rest of her family. I can only imagine how horrible it must be to know that someone else with the normal version of your face is out there and living a more normal life than yours. After awhile, though, it really became tiring to read about it - Inah was a spoiled brat, and I don't think she ever realized how much her actions adversely affected the rest of her family. I didn't feel a whole lot of sympathy for her because she was malicious and only cared about herself. The fact that her mother pushed her so hard probably didn't help. I guess this is the normal Asian-American family, isn't it? I would rate this book as 3.5, so I'm rounding it to a 4 - definitely worth it if it's still in the bargain bin.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2007
It took me a while to get over the overdone imagery. As the book progresses, the author finds a better rhythm. The interaction between the twins as they grow up is interesting. The book alternates chapters between the past and present until the past catches up with the present. There is no clear ending and it doesn't have a big climax. Basically, I wouldn't run out and buy it but it's not a waste to read. I got it as a bargain book and it was worth 5.00.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 4, 2004
This is a beautiful novel written in vivid prose. Mia Yun¿s wonderful and poetic sense of language which she amply displayed in her lovely and lyrical first novel, House of the Winds, are as apparent in this second offering. Seamlessly woven and exquisitely rendered, this is a memorable story of Korean twin sisters¿ and their family¿s struggles and disappointments in America. I think it¿s Yun¿s considerable talent as a writer that the story never ends up didactic or cliched. She simply knows how to portray time and place and people with immediacy, intimacy, vividness and all the emotional urgency. Although I don¿t want to give too much away, whether it is in Venice, Italy where at the book¿s opening, 28-year old Yunah flies to meet her twin, Inah, who was disfigured from a terrible childhood accident, or on Ash Avenue in Flushing, Queens where the twins grow up, I felt as though I was right there with them, smelling and seeing and feeling what they were smelling and seeing and feeling. I also thoroughly enjoyed the raw humor and humanity of the host of ethnically diverse and vividly-drawn characters such as Uncle Shin, Auntie Minnie, Michael and Jason, which I thought added more emotional depth to this terrific book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 24, 2004
Twins Inah and Yunah were born in 1973 in South Korea to married schoolteachers. The sisters enjoyed a happy early childhood in their homeland until Inah was hideously scarred during a scalding accident that left her visage permanently marred. Knowing that Inah would forever be ostracized in Korean society, the family immigrates to the United States moving into the Korean-American community of Flushing, Queens...................................... Over a decade passes and Inah drops out of graduate school at Oxford to first backpack in India and then to relocate in Italy. Yunah follows her sibling to Italy, but the reception is cold and angry as Inah does not want her here. Now the once close twins argue over their future, their past, their father, and finally the disfigurement that made them no longer identical...................................... TRANSLATIONS OF BEAUTY is a delightful family drama that focuses on the long term impact of a trauma on twins. The story line alternates between Yunah narrating glimpses back to their childhood with her providing a present day description of the Italian encounter of trouble between them. The ill winds into this Korean house seems overextended yet provides a deep look at battling loving twins from Yunah¿s respective. Though more of Inah¿s sullen perspective even if it is just what is going on inside her head, would have provided a stronger character study, fans will appreciate this deep look at discord in a Korean family................................ Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 2, 2004
I very much enjoyed Mia Yun¿s first novel, House of the Winds, so when I got hold of an advance copy of her new novel, Translations of Beauty, I dove into it. And I am happy to report that I was not at all disappointed. When the twin sisters, Inah and Yunah, are four years old, Inah ends up disfigured for life as a result of a harrowing accident. And it¿s Yunah, now twenty-eight years old, who narrates this moving story of the twins¿ and their family¿s struggle to cope with it while living as immigrants in America. It is an intimate and poignant portrait that demands us to rethink what the so-called ¿American dream¿ really is. Although serious and dark-toned, there are quite a few moments of lightness and humor and loveliness in this beautifully written heartbreaker of a novel. The early relationship of the twins with their humane and flawed father (who later has an extra-marital affair) especially reminded me of Christina Stead¿s The Man Loved Children, one of my favorite novels. And of the many eccentric minor characters in the book, the outrageous Auntie Minnie is a true standout. I think this deeply felt ¿literary page-turner¿ about sisterhood, family, identity, beauty and immigrant experience works on many levels and will touch a lot of readers. Yun is a very gifted writer. Highly recommended.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.