Tuesday, February 18, 2014

#59 : The Korean Word For Butterfly by James Zerdnt : A Review


BOOK TITLE: The Korean Word For Butterfly

ISBN:  1483997472

AUTHOR:  James Zerndt

GENRE: Fiction


FORMAT: Digital


REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK:   A Part of the Virtual Author Book tours.

Set against the backdrop of the 2002 World Cup and rising anti-American sentiment due to a deadly accident involving two young Korean girls and a U.S. tank, The Korean Word For Butterfly is told from three alternating points-of-view:

Billie, the young wanna-be poet looking for adventure with her boyfriend who soon finds herself questioning her decision to travel so far from the comforts of American life;

Moon, the ex K-pop band manager who now works at the English school struggling to maintain his sobriety in hopes of getting his family back;

And Yun-ji , a secretary at the school whose new feelings of resentment toward Americans may lead her to do something she never would have imagined possible. 

The Korean Word For Butterfly is a story about the choices we make and why we make them. 

It is a story, ultimately, about the power of love and redemption.

*The author would like to note that this book deals, in part, with abortion. It tries, as best it can, to explore the issue with compassion rather than judgement.*

Korea is one country that I personally haven’t read about . To me it’s just another country where people look alike – No offense but the Mongolian facial structure is rather confusing.

Of course, the mobile phone maker, Samsung has literally brought Korea into the global limelight for all the right reasons.

Korea, Abortion, Anti- American sentiment – What more reason do I really need to pick the book up?

The book overall was a different experience. I found the narration a bit unconventional. The writer sort of switched tenses and the characterisation had one major element – Sorrow – which made all characters look virtually the same. But as the story progressed the dimensions of the characters could be identified.

I loved the way the writer portrayed heavy emotions and touched upon the really sensitive topic of abortion. He beautifully highlighted a fact that it’s our choices that defines the person that we are. 

One thing that could have been better was the characterisation. Yun-ji, Billie and Moon were rather strong, this made others sort of fade out.

The other thing that sort of made me uncomfortable was the tense change. Initially I struggled to read Moon’s story line, but then I realised why that was needed – Moon is a non-native English speaker. Hence the change in tense sort of was used to highlight that.

To sum it up – it was a different read for me. The book can make you truly emotional. Definitely not for the faint hearted.

VERDICT: A unique book. An eye opener for those who have no clue about Korea. But, pick it up only if you can handle heavy and raw emotions.

RATING: 4 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Zerndt lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son. His poetry has appeared in The Oregonian, and his fiction has most recently appeared in Gray's Sporting Journal and SWINK magazine. He recieved an MFA in Writing from Pacific University and is extremely fond of gummy bears and rain.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle & Paperback

PRICE: Rs. 185

BOOK LINKS:http://www.amazon.com/Korean-Word-Butterfly-James-Zerndt-ebook/dp/B00C2UY052/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1392569646

Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse


  1. Thanks for taking part in the tour. I'm so glad you warmed up to The Korean Word for Butterfly"

  2. You're Welcome :-) I really did enjoy reading the book
    Jan @ Readers' Muse

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