Difficult, moving... Gendry-Kim tells Ok-sun’s powerful story with grace, artfulness, and humility; it deserves witness.Publishers Weekly
THIS TRUE STORY OF A KOREAN COMFORT WOMAN DOCUMENTS HOW THE ATROCITY OF WAR DEVASTATES WOMEN’S LIVES
Grass is a powerful anti-war graphic novel, offering up firsthand the life story of a Korean girl named Lee Ok-sun who was forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the second World War - a disputed chapter in 20th century Asian history.
Beginning in Lee’s childhood, Grass shows the leadup to World War II from a child’s vulnerable perspective, detailing how one person experienced the Japanese occupation and the widespread suffering it entailed for ordinary Korean folk. Keum Suk Gendry-Kim emphasizes Lee’s strength in overcoming the many forms of adversity she experienced. Grass is painted in a black ink that flows with lavish details of the beautiful fields and farmland of Korea and uses heavy brushwork on the somber interiors of Lee’s memories.
Cartoonist Gendry-Kim’s interviews with Lee become an integral part of Grass, forming the heart and architecture of this powerful non-fiction graphic novel and offering a holistic view of how Lee’s wartime suffering changed her. Grass is a landmark graphic novel that makes personal the desperate cost of war and the importance of peace.
Grass is translated from Korean by Janet Hong, an award-winning writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. Her translations include Ancco's Bad Friends (Drawn & Quarterly, 2018), Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale (Graywolf Press, 2017) and Ha Seong-nan’s The Woman Next Door (forthcoming from Open Letter Books in 2019). She is currently long listed for the 2018 PEN Translation Prize.
Praise for Grass
A small girl on a large, empty page. Alone in a cruel uncaring world. A world at war. Grass is heartbreaking and beautiful. Recurring images of nature, at once delicate and strong, help you to breathe while you choke up from the brutality. Repetition of sky, trees, birds, grass, youth, hunger, old age, and friendship. War must end. Then tears and strength and heroism. Loss but also hope.Miriam Katin, Letting Go, We Are On Our Own
With an array of visual techniques, from rough smudges to detailed strokes, some fluid and others startling, Keum Suk Gendry-Kim's Grass challenges readers to think critically about their own responsibility as they absorb former "comfort woman" Lee Ok-sun's story. What is our role as readers in relation to this story? How should we approach inevitable gaps in memory and failures of our own knowledge and imagination? What are the ethics in (re)telling their narratives?Emily Yoon, A Cruelty Special to Our Species, Ordinary Misfortunes
Gendry-Kim depicts Korea in gentle detail, using an increasingly dark and jagged style to represent conflict in her true-life story of the ways in which war changed both an entire way of life and a single individual.Ross Johnson, Barnes & Noble Blog