Why did I love this book?
Hata, a Korean, adopted by a Japanese couple, serves the Japanese Army as a medic in World War II. His job is to care for enslaved Koreans who serve as “comfort women” to Japanese soldiers. His experiences are the material of nightmares. Years later he leads a deceptively quiet life in a small town in New Jersey with his Korean adoptive daughter. It is deceptively quiet because his unresolved war experiences, presented in flashbacks, haunt him. I admired the abrupt manner in which Chang-Rae Lee interrupted Hata’s uneventful life with horrific memories.
The author’s method felt like the triggering of those who have suffered trauma and continue to relive events as PTSD. This approach of interweaving past with present inspired my depiction of a young German woman living a quiet life on a primitive Icelandic farm, milking the cows and raking the hay, while being repeatedly interrupted by memories of the Holocaust and of the loved ones she lost during World War II.