I'll Be Right There

By Kyung-Sook Shin; Sora Kim-Russell (Translator)
(Other Press (NY), Paperback, 9781590516737, 325pp.)

Publication Date: June 3, 2014

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How friendship, European literature, and a charismatic professor defy war, oppression, and the absurd
Set in 1980s South Korea amid the tremors of political revolution, "I'll Be Right There" follows Jung Yoon, a highly literate, twenty-something woman, as she recounts her tragic personal history as well as those of her three intimate college friends. When Yoon receives a distressing phone call from her ex-boyfriend after eight years of separation, memories of a tumultuous youth begin to resurface, forcing her to re-live the most intense period of her life. With profound intellectual and emotional insight, she revisits the death of her beloved mother, the strong bond with her now-dying former college professor, the excitement of her first love, and the friendships forged out of a shared sense of isolation and grief.
Yoon's formative experiences, which highlight both the fragility and force of personal connection in an era of absolute uncertainty, become immediately palpable. Shin makes the foreign and esoteric utterly familiar: her use of European literature as an interpreter of emotion and experience bridges any gaps between East and West. Love, friendship, and solitude are the same everywhere, as this book makes poignantly clear.

About the Author
Kyung-Sook Shin is one of South Korea s most widely read and acclaimed novelists. She is the author of I ll Be Right There and Please Look After Mom, which was a New York Times bestseller and a Man Asian Literary Prize winner.

Gong Ji-young is one of Korea's most beloved and critically acclaimed novelists. She has sold more than 10 million books in South Korea alone. Her awards include the 2011 Yisand Literary Award, the 21st Century Literary Award, the Korean Novel Prize, Special Media Award, and Amnesty Interna-tional for "Our Happy Times". This is Gong's first novel to be translated into English. Her books are published in China, Thailand, Japan, and the UK.

Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com


  1. Stephanie asks herself, “What attracted a thirty-three-year-old, single, unattached, attractive woman, with her own mortgage and car, to a man with the ultimate baggage: a wife, two teens, and a struggling business?” Why do you think she’s attracted to a man with so many complications? Have you ever been in her position? What does she see in Robert that makes him so attractive to her?

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