Nov 21st, 2011 by Annie
Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin
|Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin is an international best-seller first published in Korea in 2009. It was published in the US in 2011.
Please Look After Mom is centered on the heart wrenching reflections of the adult children and husband of a missing woman separated from her spouse in a busy Seoul train station.
Mom and Dad have traveled to Seoul to visit their children and grandchildren and on their return trip home, Mom is lost. With plenty of blame and guilt to go around, the story unfolds as the children and Dad reflect on their relationship with Mom and make surprising discoveries about her and themselves.
Book Club Party Ideas for Please Look After Mom
Every year Hyong-chol knew the Harvest Moon Festival was soon approaching when Mom pasted maple leaves all over the doors of the house. Table decorations could include a cornucopia or basket of fruits and vegetables, a harvest bouquet of flowers, and a table strewn with maple leaves.
I found these beautiful Harvest Moon greeting cards by Beverly Turner at amazon.com to send out as invitations for the Please Look After Mom book club party. Is that a bird I see in a persimmon tree?
Mom held fast to traditions and ancient rites. I imagine Mom would cherish traditional Korean Folk Music.
Book Club Menu for Please Look After Mom
There were many food mentions throughout Please Look After Mom: fermented bean-paste soup, panchan, braised tofu, dough-flake soup, soyu, to name a few. On summer nights, Mom would prepare steamed buns outside on a brazier. She considered these times “the best we had in this yard”. The kids would gobble up the buns as quickly as Mom could steam them.
Chi-hon wasn’t too happy with Mom when she prepared ramen noodles only for her firstborn Hyong-chol. When her boyfriend wondered aloud why she was making such a big deal about ramen noodles, Chi-hon retorted “Ramen was the best thing back then! It was something you ate in secret so you wouldn’t have to share it!” (Trivia: Which country consumes the most ramen noodles per capita per year? If you guessed [Show] [Hide] South Korea you are correct!)
Korean Sesame Beef Stir Fry
No Korean meal is complete without the popular Korean dish, kimchi. Here is Lisa’s Kimchi Recipe. Very spicy, but very good.
The truly adventurous can try their hand at Songphyun, the traditional crescent moon-shaped stuffed rice cakes served during the Harvest Moon Festival. Songphyun is stuffed with a variety of different items such as ground sesame, beans, and chestnuts, then steamed over pine needles. I can smell the fragrance of the steaming pine needles by just thinking about them!
Book Club Resources for Please Look After Mom
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.72 stars (1707 ratings)|
|Amazon: 4.2 stars (113 ratings)|
|LibraryThing: 3.82 stars (98 ratings)|
|My Rating: 4 stars Please Look After Mom had me taking stock of my own relationship with my own mom and how easy it is to take for granted that she will somehow always be there. I highly recommend this lovely, poignant tale.|
Discussion Questions for Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin
Here are a few of the excellent discussion questions found after the end of the novel.
- While second-person (“you”) narration is an uncommon mode, it is used throughout the novel’s first section (the tale of the daughter , Chi-hon) and third section (the tale of the husband). What is the effect of this choice? How does it reflect these characters’ feelings about Mom? Why do you think Mom is the only character who tells her story in the first person?
- Why is food such a powerful element in Hyong-chol’s memories of his mother?
- How do you explain the fact that Mom has been seen by various people wearing blue plastic sandals, with her foot badly injured, although when she disappeared she was wearing low-heeled beige sandals?
- What are some of the reasons for the special bond between the eldest son, Hyon-chol, and his mother?
- What are the details and cultural references that make this story particularly Korean? What elements make it universal?
Purchase Please Look After Mom at your favorite bookseller
|South Korean novelist Kyung-Sook Shin was born in 1963. She graduated from the Seoul Institute of the Arts and made her literary debut with Winter’s Fable. She has published numerous novels, short stories, and two non-fiction works. Her only English-language publication is Please Look After Mom.|
Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…
The following quote from Dad, speaking to himself, brought tears to my eyes. “Your wife, whom you’d forgotten about for fifty years, was present in your heart.”
I was also particularly disturbed that no one in the family could come up with a recent photo of mom!
Do you have any other ideas or recipes for a book club party for Please Look After Mom? We would love to have you share them with us! You can leave a comment below and upload pictures as well.
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