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Comfort Woman de Nora Okja Keller
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Comfort Woman (edição: 1998)

de Nora Okja Keller (Autor)

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
3341358,976 (3.56)5
"On the fifth anniversary of my father's death, my mother confessed to his murder." Thus begins Nora Okja Keller's breathtaking first novel, which follows Beccah, a young Korean-American girl growing up in Hawaii, as she uncovers the secret of her mother's past. Completely ignorant of her mother Akiko's history - she was sold into prostitution in the Japanese "recreation camps" of World War II for her oldest sister's dowry - Beccah understands that her mother lives in a spirit world she cannot share, and that clearly marks her as "other." Narrated in two voices, Beccah's and Akiko's, Keller reveals the story of Akiko's extraordinary dislocation - the slavery of the camps, the death of her first child, her unhappy marriage to an American missionary - which Beccah understands only after her mother's death.In language that is both harsh and lyrical, Keller explores the universally complicated relationship between mother and daughter. She shows us both Akiko's way of survival, sustained by her remarkable strength and her love for her daughter, and Beccah's acceptance of her mother and her own place in a world her mother no longer physically inhabits.… (mais)
Membro:naoph
Título:Comfort Woman
Autores:Nora Okja Keller (Autor)
Informação:Penguin Books (1998), Edition: 1/30/98, 240 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:
Etiquetas:1997

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Comfort Woman de Nora Okja Keller

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Kim Soon Hyo, the mother in Nora Okja Keller’s Comfort Woman, is not sure how to share her own story of being a comfort woman with her daughter, Beccah Bradley. In fact, in some ways Akiko, as she was known in the comfort stations, is not sure whether to share her story at all. This uncertainty, bound and tangled with motherly love, compels both Beccah and Akiko to form their identities in the fluid space between them.

Comfort women, kept in imprisoned prostitutes in Japanese camps during World War II, are a story of history that are not often brought to light (and are, in fact, denied by many to have even happened). The fact that Keller devotes this novel to their stories, as presented by a woman and her daughter, is something that cannot be dismissed, in whatever form, but Keller manages to present a story that is well-written and delicately told.

Beccah’s childhood dreams of fitting into American culture surrounded by Marie Osmond and blue-eyed dolls, and Akiko’s own strained relationship with Beccah’s father, an American missionary, find common ground in the unspoken ties that unite mother and daughter.

The motif of language is one that is of interesting focus in the story. Akiko, who spoke to own her mother in a sort of secret language (17), employs a similar method to “speak” to the comfort women. “I would sing to the women,” she relates. “When I hummed certain sections, the women knew to take those unsung words for a message” (20). A definite note of strength is found in this: As comfort women ravaged by the soldiers, the aspect of physicality, the sense of touch, would have been all too real for these women. Akiko, however, is able to use this physicality in a different way, to communicate in a way that avoids “useless words.” She watches her husband teach their daughter how to speak German, English, and Japanese, and worries about her confusion.

As her mother’s stories begin to emerge about the horrors these women faced, Beccah learns that naming - the other main theme of the book - is important as an aspect of identity, and the calling out of a true name acts as the affirmation and celebration of a life. False names only act as more of that spoken, dissecting language. One of the character’s final pronouncements of naming is an affirmation of the life she lived before being owned by the Japanese: “I am Korea, I am a woman, I am alive. I am seventeen, I had a family just like you do, I am a daughter, I am a sister” (20).

Taking a difficult subject and rendering it with compassion and the right amount of sympathy is not always easy, and while it has a rocky start, Keller manages to do this quite well, and with vivid memorable imagery and characters. It is obviously not the easiest read for numerous reasons, but it is well worth the effort. ( )
  irrelephant | Feb 21, 2021 |
This is the poignant story of Akiko, one of tens of thousands of women pressed into sexual slavery by Japanese forces during WWII. The story is told from two points of view: Akiko's and her daughter, Beccah. The chapters about Akiko's experiences during the war are horrific,
and the chapters about Beccah show how the mother's experiences have multi-generational effects. Well written and very moving. ( )
  LynnB | Nov 29, 2018 |
A masterful story that explores a truly dark moment in Japanese/Korean history, mother-daughter relationships, cultural clashes, and generation gaps. Not for the faint of heart, Comfort Woman spares the reader nothing in the way of graphic, but important details as it relays the story of Akiko and Rebecca in their separate and intertwined journeys. ( )
  MPaddock | Sep 22, 2017 |
An often moving novel about Akiko, one of tens of thousands of women pressed into sexual slavery by Japanese imperial forces during WWII. The novel alternates chapters between Akiko's point of view and that of her daughter Beccah, whom she raises in Hawaii after marrying an American missionary. The chapters about Akiko's experiences during the war are horrific and effective. The chapters about Beccah are less interesting, though the conclusion of the novel gives the two protagonists a poignant reconciliation. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
So compelling that I finished it in just a day and a half. An evocative look at the difficult relationship between a mother and daughter, and the terrible experiences of Korean women under Japanese occupation. A real window into an unfamiliar time, an unfamiliar place, an unfamiliar culture and way of relating to the world. Very good indeed. ( )
  AmberMcWilliams | Feb 24, 2015 |
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"On the fifth anniversary of my father's death, my mother confessed to his murder." Thus begins Nora Okja Keller's breathtaking first novel, which follows Beccah, a young Korean-American girl growing up in Hawaii, as she uncovers the secret of her mother's past. Completely ignorant of her mother Akiko's history - she was sold into prostitution in the Japanese "recreation camps" of World War II for her oldest sister's dowry - Beccah understands that her mother lives in a spirit world she cannot share, and that clearly marks her as "other." Narrated in two voices, Beccah's and Akiko's, Keller reveals the story of Akiko's extraordinary dislocation - the slavery of the camps, the death of her first child, her unhappy marriage to an American missionary - which Beccah understands only after her mother's death.In language that is both harsh and lyrical, Keller explores the universally complicated relationship between mother and daughter. She shows us both Akiko's way of survival, sustained by her remarkable strength and her love for her daughter, and Beccah's acceptance of her mother and her own place in a world her mother no longer physically inhabits.

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