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Please Look After Mom, Kyung-Sook Shin


A best seller in its original Korean, “Please Look After Mom” was received critically by English audiences. Chronicling a family’s reaction after the disappearance of their mother and wife from a subway station in Seoul, it powerfully describes emotions and relationships through vivid scenes from their lives.

The novel is written in four voices — a daughter, a son, a husband, and finally that of the missing woman herself, and each brings a difference perspective and realized appreciation for Park So-Nyo. The relationship between daughter and mother is explored through the eyes of Chi-hon, the youngest daughter, an author who travels the world and often forgets to call home to assuage her mother’s fear of planes. She remembers how she became a guest in her family’s home, how her mother became agitated when she came to visit unannounced, as well as her realization of her mother’s chronic illness and pain. The story continues in the perspective of Hyong-chol, the beloved oldest son of the family, who remembers his mother’s sacrifice, how she prepared special foods for them, how she hoped and worked for him to pursue his dream of becoming a prosecutor.

Although this is a translation, the writing style is elegant, and each voice comes through clearly and distinctly. There are, however, no neat endings or happily-ever-afters. Still, if you are willing to give it a shot, this is a story that will resonate and perhaps even haunt you long after you have finished it.

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