Maija Rhee Devine The Voices of Heaven

ISBN 13: 9781624120039

The Voices of Heaven

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9781624120039: The Voices of Heaven

During the final years of the Japanese Occupation, Gui-yong and Eum-chun strike gold by finding a love as sweet as sticky rice. But their love for each other and for their secretly adopted daugh- ter is not enough, as they must soon accept the impossible―a mistress moving in to bear Gui-yong the male child deemed necessary in a society still smoldering in Confucianism.

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About the Author:

Maija Rhee Devine is a write whose fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Boulevard, North American Review, The Kenyon Review, and various anthologies. A Korean-born writer, she holds a BA in English from Sogang University in Seoul and an MA in English from St. Louis University. Writing honors include an NEA grant and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and an O. Henry Award. The author is married to Michael J. Devine, the director of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, MO.

Review:

''In Devine's debut novel, war and traditional Confucianism tear apart an idyllic Korean family.

Eum-chun and her husband, Gui-yong, have been married for 15 years and are deeply in love. Although they adore their adopted daughter, Mi-na, they fail to produce a son--a serious problem in their deeply traditional society. Gui-yong eventually gives in to his mother's wishes and marries a second woman, Soo-yang, hoping she will deliver a boy to carry on the family name. Although Eum-chun tries to bear the situation bravely, she's devastated, and cracks soon begin to form in the seemingly perfect family. The novel, set against the backdrop of the Korean War, follows four main characters as they navigate their new family and the chaos that ravages the land. Devine's prose richly describes everyday life in 1950s Korea, and the war effectively parallels the battle raging in the family home--an insurmountable rift divides the family, just as it does their country. It's a realistic sketch of a Korea that few Westerners have seen, depicting a patriarchal society that limits women's choices, and each character faces a unique battle stemming from that unfortunate situation. Each of their stories is rich with emotion, and their problems give the novel depth and complexity. Most compelling are the struggles of Eum-chun, Mi-na and Soo-yang as they fight to create their own identities; although they all fight similar battles, they cannot fight them together, as their society has driven wedges between them. Their resulting stories are often melancholy and achingly beautiful.

A complex, uniquely Korean love story that shouldn't be missed.'' --Kirkus Reviews

''Maija Devine writes with a grace and illuminating power that is very rare. She manages to capture the fault line between cultures and languages desperately trying to connect and make sense of each other while remaining faithful to themselves. Her skill and promise are enormous; the power of her narrative art rewards any reader.'' --David H. Lynn, editor of The Kenyon Review

''Maija Devine's inspiring storytelling in ''The Voices of Heaven'' gives voice to the countless voiceless ones who have gotten swept along in the dire necessities of nation-building and war in South and North Korea over the past half-century. This is a beautiful book about wars waged at the most intimate levels imaginable for basic rights of freedom and self-determination. Each page is like a carefully carved open doorway into this still secret corner of the world and the lives of the women and men who somehow endured the very personal tragedies captured here.'' --Michael Pritchett, associate professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City

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Devine, Maija Rhee
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