I'm just going to repost this from The Korean, because I have so much to say about this that it isn't even fair to spill it all over his comments. Fuck sake.
First of all, I want to clarify about my personal relationship with NPR. I don't fucking like it, particularly their cute little radio shows that are meant to create quirky little windows into the unique way that all those other weird, interesting people live. It's some of the most condescending shit I've ever heard in my life, and it's often made even worse by the fact that the people who are creating it claim to be open-minded liberals. It ends up being either back-handedly classist, racist, ethnocentric, or some combination thereof more times than not. The fuckers even managed to piss off the poets I was working with back in New York by being remarkably blithe about the definition of poetry (the entire basis of these men's lives, at that particular moment, and something for which they had given up a lot), and asking cunty stupid little questions while trying to provoke a "cute" sound clip.
They're cunts. They try to be modern and snarky and end up coming off like complete tossers who have so much privilege that they can't help but be cunts in all their free time. They're not even ignorant cunts. They are well-educated, blue state cunts who grew up hearing that the world is a beautiful rainbow of all of God's different colored people from their parents. They don't have any excuses, and they have no fucking idea how wrong they are most of the time.
I mean. I don't like NPR to begin with. To put it mildly.
But this. You know, I'm not Korean. And maybe that's why the "kimchee-scented Kleenex " bullshit doesn't even bother me that much, compared to what for me is the larger issue, which is that this cunt of an alleged "writer" had the nerve to do two contradictory cunty things at the same time: 1. Distance herself emotionally from the book by making it "from another culture" and 2. Completely fail to take that culture into account when evaluating the book.
You can't have your cunty cake and eat it as well, Maureen Corrigan.
I like that word today. Sorry.
The point is, why is this book so Korean? I mean, when NPR reviews a book by a French author, do we need to hear about how different French culture is from ours, and how ______ our culture is, compared to French culture, and how there are probably baguettes somehow involved, and French culture is just so inconceivable that maybe I'm just not getting this book right because French culture is "completely alien" to our own? No. We don't. It's just a different culture. Literature crosses the bounds of culture effortlessly all the time. Sure, we may miss some key points here or there, but there's no need to produce an entire battery of caveats about how this piece of literature is from another culture. I mean, she wasn't actually reading it in Korean, was she? Has she never read a fucking book by a non-American author before? How fucking idiotic.
At the same time.... I really can't help but feel like Corrigan must have been on some kind of epically pressing deadline. Like she was getting down to the wire on the presses, and had to half-assedly throw some bullshit together to try to make a point out of something she really didn't care about. Otherwise, I have absolutely no idea why a professional writer would feel the need to completely ignore the actual storyline of a book -- and the "completely alien culture" it comes from -- and scramble to grasp an irrelevant detail, like one of the book's characters being female, in order to drag it around into the spotlight and try to make it into a big, fat something.
How are vicious feminists such as myself supposed to actually hold people's attention with things that matter when anybody who needs a "summarizing point" is just trotting that shit out for the fun of it? The review itself clearly states that the other children, at least one of whom was male, were held as being just as responsible. Anyone who knows anything about Korean culture at all is aware that family obligations are definitely not limited to the realm of the female. One of the first things they'll tell you when you start dating Korean men, in fact, is don't get mixed up with an oldest son. Because he is the one who will ultimately be responsible for his parents.
The novelist is a woman. Of course, it's not a hard-and-fast rule, but generally, especially first time novelists will stick with a narrator and/or narration of a character of their same gender. It's just easier.
So a Korean woman feels responsible for her mother. Who, in all of Korea, doesn't feel responsible for their mother? Who, in the entire world, shouldn't feel responsible for their mother?
So, basically NPR did the same thing it always does: It othered another culture, and then criticized it based on its own cultural standards without having any actual fucking clue what was going on. So that clever little upper middle class white people can sit in their clever little houses and read their clever little book review about a clever little Korean book. And feel like they're checking all the boxes on their clever little cultured lists. And, in my opinion, it's just a symptom of everything that is absolutely, 100% wrong with that culture, that Corrigan finds it just so blase that someone would, like, feel guilty for like, being the totally unique and free butterfly that the universe intended, and instead would get all bogged down by icky things like personal responsibility and filial obligation.
Big, huge pile of obvious horse shit. And I'm pretty sure Patti Smith would like nothing more than to kick a clever little empowered woman like Corrigan right in the cunt. That's worse than that KRD fuckwit sourcing his incessant drivel back to Hunter S. Thompson. You fucking wish.