Blood Sisters


Blood Sisters is a prose debut of Kim Yideum, a well-known South Korean feminist and poet, and a proprietor of a café bookstore called Café Yideum located in Islan, close to Seoul. The book tells a story of Jeong Yeoul, a student who tries to establish herself in Korea of the late 1980s, the time marked by rapid transformation and student protests.

It is by no means an ideological book. Yeoul stays away from politics evern when it seems impossible and when almost everyone around her becomes more or less politically engaged. Her story focuses on her personal experiences and truma. Yeoul escapes her family, suffers sexual violence, financial problems, is forced to live at her friends’, loses her half-brother, and her friend (and occasional lover) commit suicide…

As a result, Yeoul thinks of her life as day-to-day existence, without any past or future. She escapes from her reality into the world of art, constantly reading, especially the classics, and comparing her life to films and paintings. Yeoul searches for her place in the world, confronts herself with the surrounding reality and social norms, but she is perfect in neither her personality nor her actions. This makes her a fascinating and undeniably human character, and contrasts her apathy with the lust for life, which persists against all odds.

Blood Sisters immediately reminded me of Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin. Both books take place in a similar time period, both feature queer themes and the narration in Blood Sisters, just like that of Qiu Miaojin, is chaotic and nonchalant. The book is of interest not only to those curious about feminism. Rather, it is an engaging, blunt and painfully true story, which often closely resembles our own lives.

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