“...Kim's sensitive first novel, which depicts 30 years of Korea's modern history in light of its ancient past, is an illuminating prequel to present-day events. ...[T]he narrative is keenly and often lyrically observed but somewhat slow to develop dramatic momentum. However, the sweep of fate that destroys Najin's hopes injects tragic intensity into the story. ...Kim's account acquires depth and immediacy as she draws vivid pictures of wartime poverty and hardship. ...overall this is a satisfying excursion into empathetically rendered lives.