House of the Winds
5 1/4" x 8" • 256 pages
ISBN 9781566563055 • hardback • $22.95 •
"At night, brother and I often stretched out on the veranda floor like two star fish and picked out Scorpion and Orion and the Big Dipper from the night sky, densely pricked with chipped pieces of diamond. If we fixed our eyes on the sky long enough, we felt as though it was churning. It became a huge spinning silver disk on the top of an acrobat's bamboo pole. One of the stories mother told us that summer was about a farmer who suffered from a constant fear that the sky might collapse on him. How did the story go? Just like all the stories mother told us, it began with, "Once upon a time when the tigers smoked pipes, there lived..." and went from there."
1960s Korea. A girl stands in the middle of the sunny cabbage patch with her mother. The air is full of butterflies (the souls of little children in afternoon naps) and secrets (though they were not secrets at the time). House of the Winds is a portrait of a family whose lives have been deeply affected by the tumultuous long years of Japanese rule and the Korean War. And it is the story of one mother and one daughter. Young Wife is a magic-wand mother who tells stories of the time when tigers smoked pipes. One day her white summer blouse runs deep red, mango-red and azalea pink. Who knows from where this sudden sadness sprouted? Her youngest daughter is our guide through this world in which an American electric iron is so powerful it sets off a coup d'état. The daughter begins to see "how Korean women, descendents of the she-bear woman and the son of the king of heaven, lived in the folds of history...laughing, wailing, spirit-cajoling, poetry-writing, tear-hiding, bosom-bracing, scheming, fire-breathing."
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