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Catherine Chung Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Forgotten Country (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Tenth Muse (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Catherine Chung is a prolific Korean-American author, who is famous for writing historical fiction and contemporary novels. She is particularly well known for writing her debut novel called Forgotten Country. This 2012 book was a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention and was also a Next Pick by Indie. It was also included in the top books’ list of many literary journals like Booklist, Bookpage, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Author Chung was awarded the National Endowment for Arts Fellowship in 2014 in Creative Writing. In 2010, she was recognized as one of the New Voices of the year by the Granta Magazine. After the release of her first book, she went on to achieve the status of a critically acclaimed author.

Chung was born and brought up in Evanston, Illinois. She spent the later years of her life growing up in New York, Michigan, and New Jersey. Chung completed her graduation with a degree in mathematics from the Chicago University. She worked for a brief period at The Rand Corporation and then decided to go join the Cornell University for obtaining an MFA degree because of her passion for writing stories. Other than her 2012 widely popular debut novel, Chung has also written several essays and short stories that have been published in The Rumpus, Granta, and The New York Times. Chung’s interest in writing poetry helped her to win the Dorothy Sargeant Rosenberg award. Chung has held fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, Jentel, and Hedgebrook. Even The Camargo Foundation, Constance Saltonstall Foundation, and Jerome Foundation have supported her writing. On one occasion, she was invited as a Picador guest professor at Leipzig University.

Currently, she is working as a creative writing assistant professor at the Adelphi University. The Guernica Magazine has hired her as its fiction editor. Author Chung says that writing has always been the passion of her life, but she was distracted by academics and ended up taking mathematics as a specialization for graduation. And when she realized that her interest lies mainly in writing, she started scribbling by writing poems and stories. Chung describes her time at Cornell University as the most memorable one of her entire life because she found some amazing friends and teachers there. After earning her MFA, she spent the next few years traveling to different places in search of encouragement and inspiration. She even shared her experience for teaching aspiring writers and used the spare times from her teaching job to complete her first story. Chung’s brother named Heesoo Chung has supported her in all her life decisions. He even provided her shelter when she didn’t have any place to go during her struggling days. As of today, author Chung resides in Brooklyn. She is working on the development of the next book of her writing career and expects the fans to provide the same support that they have given to her previous two books.

The successful debut book written by author Catherine Chung is entitled ‘Forgotten COuntry’. It was released by the Riverhead Hardcover publication in 2012. Author Chung has done the story’s setting in Korea and America. The central characters mentioned by Chung in the story include Janie, Hannah, and a few others. At the story’s start, Hannah and Janie are depicted as sisters. On the night when Hannah is about to take birth, Janie’s grandmother tells her the story of how the family has lost one daughter every generation since Japan occupied Korea. So, she asks Janie to keep her sister safe and take good care of her. With the passage of time, Janie hears many other stories from her grandmother, who does not reveal the facts to her. Even her father tells her stories related to numbers.

Janie feels that the stories told by her father work out very well with facts and sense as compared to the ones told by her grandmother. Then there are the stories told by her mother that consists of deer exploding in fields, girls jumping off of cliffs and falling in the sea like flowers, and frogs burying their beloved family members into the ocean. All of the stories told to Janie, there is some kind of warning that she understands later. Several years later, both Janie and Hannah grow up and get involved in different activities. Hannah cuts all the ties with her family inexplicably and disappears to live on her own terms. Thinking of the promise she had made to her grandmother, Janie sets herself on the mission of finding her sister and bringing her back to her family. During the course of this mission, she uncovers several disturbing truths related to the silence of her family. And in order to know more, she decides to dig up the family history and tries to find out the reason behind the sudden move of her parents to America 20 years ago.

Janie even tries to reason her conflicted feelings about her sister. She makes an attempt to understand what did she do wrong with her sister that she became estranged with her and moved away from her. This book weaves the Korean folklore inside a modern description of identity and immigration. It provides a fierce exploration of the conflict between freedom and obligation and tries to explain how loss can be inevitable at times. And last but not the least, it tells the story of a family that struggles to get over silence for many years and the ways in which it affects its members throughout those years. Author Chung has written this book very well. Janie’s character appears to be very sympathetic, while Hannah seems to be a mysterious child. The whole plot is filled with too much emotion, background explanation, and exposition. The critics have described the novel to be a richly emotional narration about a family that struggles to keep its members together, and the steps taken by its younger members to set things right. Many others have labeled it as a heart rendering story that revolves around the history of Korea, a family’s complexities, and relationships based on lies. The readers found the book to be emotionally moving and heartwarming. It is full of betrayal, heartbreak, death, reunion, and forgiveness. All such elements helped the novel to become immensely successful and allowed author Chung the chance to get noticed for her excellent work as a writer.

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