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Ellen recommends... 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster - Mirinae Lee

Ellen recommends... 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster - Mirinae Lee

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Ellen recommends...

8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster is an extraordinary book, taking the form of tales told by Ms Mook, an elderly resident in a retirement home. At first, the carer writing the residents' obituaries is sceptical of Ms Mook's wild stories, which span many decades and countries. But in twentieth century Korea, a country fractured by war, there is no such thing as ordinary, and identities can be assumed and discarded...

Mirinae Lee has a voice that is immediately engaging. This novel pulls no punches, and although this is fiction, it still opened my eyes to the brutality and bleakness that clouded this turbulent era of Korea's history. The cruelty of war and the trauma inflicted upon ordinary people, especially women and girls, was harrowing to read at times, but I still could not put this book down. Ms Mook is someone who shape-shifts to survive, and she makes a fascinating protagonist. I was really impressed with this debut novel.



MOTHER. TRICKSTER. At the Golden Sunset retirement home, it is not unusual for residents to invent stories.

So when elderly Ms Mook first begins to unspool her memories, the obituarist listening to her is sceptical. Stories of captivity, friendship, murder, assumed identities and spying. A life that moves from WWII Indonesia to Busan during the Korean war; from cold-war Pyongyang to a Protestant church in China.

The adventures are so colourful and various, at times so unbelievable. Surely they can't all belong to the same woman. Can they?

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