By Kim Yideum
Translated by Jiyoon Lee
A woman in 1980s Korea struggles to understand her identity and live an authentic life in the face of injustice.
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Blood Sisters tells the story of Jeong Yeoul, a young Korean college student in the 1980’s, when the memory of President Chun Doohwan’s violent suppression of student demonstrations against martial law was still fresh. Yideum captures with raw honesty the sense of dread felt by many Korean women during this time as Jeong struggles in a swirl of misguided desires and hopelessness against a society distorted by competing ideologies, sexual violence, and cultural conservatism. Facing this helplessness, her impulse is to escape into the world of art. Blood Sisters is a vivid, powerful portrayal of a woman’s efforts to live an authentic life in the face of injustice.
Kim Yideum, an outspoken feminist hailed as one of the greatest poets in South Korea today, whose works in translation include Cheer Up, Femme Fatale! (Action Books, 2015) and Hysteria (Action Books, 2019). Having received her PhD with a dissertation on Korean feminist poetics, she has taught at Gyeongsang National University, served as a culture columnist, and has hosted a poetry radio show. She has received numerous awards for her poetry, including the Poetry & the World Literary Award (2010), the Kim Daljin Changwon Award (2011), the 22nd Century Literary Award (2015) and the Kim Chunsoo Award (2015). Ms. Kim owns and operates Café Yideum, a bookstore café, in Ilsan, a satellite city of Seoul. Blood Sisters, originally published to great renown in South Korea in 2011, is her debut novel.
Jiyoon Lee is a poet and translator whose most recent publications include Poems of Kim Yideum, Kim Haengsook, and Kim Minjeong: The Collection of Contemporary Korean Poetry (Vagabond Press, 2017). Her translation of Kim Yideum's book of poetry, Cheer Up, Femme Fatale (Action Books, 2015), was shortlisted for Lucien Stryk Prize. She is also the author of Foreigner’s Folly (Coconut Books, 2014), Funsize/Bitesize.
Chosen as Asymptote's May 2019 Book Club Pick!
Finalist for Big Other's Book Award for Translation
“Yideum is primarily a poet and this is evident in the texture and sensuality of her prose, skillfully translated by Ji Yoon Lee.” —Asymptote
“Unapologetically feminist… The novel has as much to say about the contemporary #MeToo era as it does ‘80s South Korea.” —Spectrum Culture
“This slim novel juggles so much: same-gender attraction, violence against women, abusive families, and more. This tightly-wound, exacting story is set during the late 80’s, a time of student activism and suppression in Korea. Jeong Yeoul is unforgettable and mesmerizing as she navigates college life, gender norms, politics, and death.” —Anna, Bookseller at City Lights Bookstore
“As she deals with the traumas of a family member’s death, a friend’s suicide, and her own sexual assault, there is something powerfully irrefutable about the narrator’s untethered unloading of confessions, observations, and scathing rage. Lee’s multifaceted translation captures the character’s contradictions—expressing the uncontrollable forces of sorrow, apathy, confusion—and the hope that having a voice is a way to freedom.” —Bonnie Chau, Public Books