Secondhand World

“A daring, haunting, inspired debut.”

Secondhand World was a finalist for the PEN/Bingham Award, given to “an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.” The novel was also selected as one of the best books of 2006 by School Library Journal, one of the best debut novels of the year by the Rocky Mountain News, and was a winter guide pick on It was Redbook Magazine’s October Book Club Pick. Read an excerpt online.

Read Secondhand World with your group and I will be happy to discuss it with you, either in person, or by phone, as geographical location dictates. Look for discussion questions on line at Borzoi Books.

“Isadora Myung Hee Sohn — Isa — worships her mother, an exceptional beauty, born in Seoul and sheltered in a harem of sisters inside the wealthy family’s compound. Isa’s father, a physics professor and orphan, is haunted by the war in which he served as a South Korean soldier, and by a painful secret that he keeps from his wife. Still mourning the death of Isa’s younger brother, Stephen, her parents are traditional enough to prize their dead son over their living daughter; to them, Isa only half exists.

photo by Julie MentoBut unlike many Asian American daughters, Isa is neither meek nor a quiet victim of tradition. Despite her parents success and sophistication — they?ve achieved the American dream — she repudiates their values, embarks on her own sexual education, and runs away with an albino boy, “Hero.” At the same time, and for all her mother?s strict adherence to Korean traditional values, Isa suspects that she is involved with another man and determines to make the affair known. What begins as a child?s unthinking fury at her mother soon leads to more deadly consequences.

The paperback edition of Secondhand World was published by Anchor Books in February 2008. Check your local bookstore!