“I wanted to write about the everyday and common but nonetheless undeserved experience of women around me,” said Cho Nam-Joo in an interview for the New York Times, and this is exactly what one can expect from her ground-shaking novel: straightforward minimalist narrative that hits very close to home and transmits a powerful universal message.
We follow the story of Kim Jiyoung from childhood until the age of 33, taking note of hardships and obstacles that all girls and women go through in the course of their common, everyday existence. Jiyoung is not special, she’s quite ordinary, deeply rooted into the average where most of us can recognise certain aspects of ourselves.
She is the girl who gets harassed by a boy in her class and that is explained away as ‘he does it because he likes you,’ she is the teenager who gets stalked and confronted by a pervert on a bus, she is the young woman who is prevented from making any progress in her career because she is expected to get married and have a family, she is the woman who gets forced into having a child by her in-laws, she is the woman who ends up stranded in domesticity and can’t find a way to pull herself out, she is the woman who’s had enough!
Although it revolves primarily around the ingrained gender roles and laws in South Korea, this book speaks clearly and loudly about women all over the world. It’s a story, a lesson, a testimony, a definite must-read!
© 2020 Erna Grcic