On Books & Reviews

If you can’t find the words to describe what you feel…


‘I’m putting my youth, health, job, colleagues, social network, career plans and future on the line. No wonder all I can think about are things I’m giving up. But what about you? What do you lose by gaining a child?’

A power-packed, 162-page novel, ‘Kim Jiyoung, Born in 1982’ questions the patriarchal value system which creates gender inequality. Peppered with statistics of gender inequality in Korea, the novel might have been about any Indian girl in her 30’s as well. ‘Normalising compromise’ as not ok has found a voice in Cho’s narrative. From sharing her room with her sister while her younger brother gets a room of his own to being publicly humiliated for having a cup of coffee in the afternoon with her child, Kim Jiyoung represents every woman who has been shushed for speaking their mind. For me, the book verbalises the feelings I’ve grown up. It gives me the words with which I can hold conversations without getting angry or bursting into tears.

If you do want to read the novel after reading this, I just suggest you keep stickies, a ruler and a pen/pencil handy. You might want to keep coming back to re-read portions.

Book Palsip Yi Nyeon Saeng Kim Jiyeong / Kim Jiyoung, Born in 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo translated by Jamie Chang
Language Originally written in Korean/ Read in English
Publisher Scribner Books