Mar / 2023

Please Look After Mother, Kyung-Sook Shin

Autorea: Liburu dantza

Written by: Slawka Grabowska

Please Look After Mother, Kyung-Sook Shin

[London] : Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2022

261 pages

ISBN 978-1-4746-2168-7



A South Korean novel that both makes the readers uncomfortable and captivates them, both feelings feeling almost addictive. Despite dealing with a family drama, the book can be read in one sitting, it’s hard for us to put it aside without discovering how it ends.

So-nyo, a 69-year-old woman, is separated from her husband at the bustling Seoul station and disappears. Her family, 5 children and a husband, desperately try to find her only to discover in the process how little they know her, how little they cared for her and how much they neglected her for years. To make matters worse, So-nyo is suffering from Alzheimer’s, something that until now she managed to hide from her inattentive family. So-nyo’s is a life full of challenges and sacrifices for people who took all her efforts for granted. It’s one of these stories that leave us heartbroken and wanting to call our moms to make sure they’re okay.

At Donostia Book Club we’re talking about Please Look After Mother next Monday, March 13. It’ll be a good excuse to compare the style of this work with others that also deal with mother-children relationships. Below, we leave you some of the questions that we are going to analyse in case you feel like joining us or enjoying this book on your own.

- In some parts of the book the narration is used in the second person.
  Because? What does it bring to this story?
- What is the relationship between the brothers? Did they all have the
  same contact with their mother?
- What does it matter that Chi-hon is a writer and her mother is illiterate?
  In what scenes do we realize these facts?
- What things does the family discover about So-nyo after her
  How does discovering it change each one's perception of it?
- In what way does food appear in the story and what does it symbolize?
- What do the blue sandals symbolize? Why do people find themselves in
  different parts of the city with So-nyo in sandals when she was actually
  wearing other types of shoes?

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