The Kinship of Secrets is Eugenia Kim’s second novel, which Min Jin Lee called “…a gorgeous achievement”.
The Kinship of Secrets is inspired by a true story (based on Eugenia Kim’s own family history). Kim’s first novel The Calligrapher’s Daughter was also based on her grandmother’s own childhood.
It is a story of two sisters: Miran and Inja. They are born to their parents (Najin and Calvin Cho) but Miran grows up in the 1950’s United States and Inja grows up in a Korea ravaged by war.
Najin, Calvin and their daughter Miran travel to the United States looking for new opportunities. However they leave their infant daughter Inja in the care of their extended family in Korea.
And then the Korean War breaks out.
Of course, this means the two sisters are separated with no way to contact each other.
In the novel this separation is followed by the alternating narrative told through the eyes of each sister.
Najin and Calvin attempt to reunite with Inja, but there are so many barriers in their way. Not just distance and war, but also time.
The two sisters brought up in such differing contexts make it hard for a true renunion to occur. And how can a daughter forgive the parents who left her in Korea just before a war broke out?
This novel is about separation and reunion, much as what the families of North Korea and South Korea have experienced recently due to the unresolved conflict caused by the Korean War (a peace treaty has still been yet to be signed).
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It is timely that Eugenia Kim’s novel describes the same kind separation and reunion as what the families of South Korea and North Korea have experienced. Although in Eugenia’s novel it describes those between a family torn between the US and Korea.
Many other famous Korean novelists have stepped in and given praise for The Kinship of Secrets, including Krys Lee, Min Jin Lee , Jung Yun, Yoojin Grace Wuertz, and Marie Myung-Ok Lee.
The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim is a book being highly anticipated and I bet you are anticipating in earnest too.