A modern-day quest novel from one of Korea’s most renowned novelists.
Princess Bari tells the story of a young girl, frail and brave, who escapes from famine and death in North Korea in the 1990s. Seeking refuge in China before crossing oceans in the hold of a cargo ship, she disembarks in London, with its bewildering mix of cultures, religions, and languages.
In this foreign city, Bari finds work as a masseuse — but she doesn’t just heal the body, she also comforts souls, having learnt from her beloved grandmother to read the pain and nightmares of others. Alone and in a strange land, Bari will have to fight, through pain and deepening sadness, to find love and the will to stay alive.
With Princess Bari, Hwang Sok-yong entwines an old Korean myth, which tells of an abandoned princess travelling to the ends of the earth to find the elixir of life that will bring peace to the souls of the dead, with the ethereal and haunting backdrop of the modern world.
‘Drawing on an old Korean folktale about a princess on a quest and intertwining it with modern life in China and London, Sok-yong chronicles Bari’s journey in an enchanting style that explores Korean culture, beautifully balances reality with magic, and presents an immigrant's perspective of the world.’
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‘An evocative, modern-day quest from one of Korea's most renowned novelists … a story of the search for home and a timely, surreal reminder of the cost of war and the desperate measures people will take to escape.’
‘A mesmerizing odyssey through the beauty, suffering, and rage that flow from the irrepressible desire to live.’ STARRED REVIEW