A Novel by Christina Park
No time is a good time for a city to burn down, but at around seven o'clock that November evening, it seemed to be a good a time as any."
Inspired by a true story, soulful and God-fearing Nara Lee carries a painful secret and a corrosive guilt.
Set against an historical backdrop, when Korea was a colony and citizenry was rendered impotent, Nara's life is forged in 1919, the year of the March First Movement. It is her journey from the ancestral home of her father, a nobelman, to an insidious orphanage to a forced-labour factory during the 'Occupation'. When colonialism had outlived its usefulness, she is empancipated only to live through an era of high suspicion and treason
She is forced into a squalid tent city after surviving the tragedy of the 1953 Busan Fire that left 28,000 people homeless. Finally staggering headlong to a new life in Vancouver, Canada, she elucidates the poetry of home: the loss of home is like the loss of identity.
Amidst violence and abject injustice, Nara finds a way to rise up from the ashes again and again to rejoice in small triumphs in the homes she lived, in the homes she lost.
Over the centuries, like any port city, Busan saw her share of sailors and adventurers, would-be conquerors and curious on-lookers. She welcomed or turned back all manner of wizardry, concoctions, potions and notions, bobbles and coloured stones and fierce dragon like weapons. Marvels and terrors of the manifold earth attempted many a time to land on her shores, introducing themselves as ideas - kindling fantasy, kindling tyranny. She would refuse most of those grossly unwelcome advances for millennia at a time. But at one point, when she was weary and thoughtful, fatigued by the continual tide of wooers and at once distracted with her back turned against the sea, she was seized upon and ravaged. Enemies smelling disenchantment stole upon her turning her from strong heroic keeper of the gateway to tattered victim, sadly succumbing to persecution.”