Be Literate: The Translation of Han by Hei Kyong Kim

Monday, June 09, 2014

The Translation of Han (released June of 2014) is a collection of poetry and prose about the spiritual, psychological, personal and political aspects of historical and intergenerational trauma amongst a people; it explores issues of race, adoption, culture, gender, lateral oppression, violence, love, family, and grief and loss. It is argued that Han cannot be understood by others who are not raised within the culture, including adopted Koreans; however, Hei Kyong Kim argues that adoptees were born out of trauma, out of Han. This body of work reflects an immigrant experience that has too often been forgotten.

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What Others Are Saying

"The Translation of Han is an important, ambitious book full of risks and rewards. It reads like a museum: beautiful, compelling, and daring. This remarkable debut explores trauma, survival, kinship and family, and the essential fight for identity. Kim writes about difficult subject matter with grace and accuracy. She is the real deal. This book is an absolute treasure." - Lee Herrick, author of Gardening Secrets of the Dead and This Many Miles from Desire

"Hei Kyong Kim's fearless book The Translation of Han will open up new and haunting spaces in your psyche. Her images of blood and ocean trace and re-member irretrievable losses as well as fierce resistances. This is a book with fight, with teeth and claws. Get lost within its pages, lose your masks, put on others, and dance to its generous, timeless rhythms." - Sun Yung Shin, author of Rough, and Savage and Skirt Full of Black

"Hei Kyong Kim invites you in after she kicks the door down. She is fearless, writes with unapologetic fury, and is just the right kind of merciless. This incendiary book is part lament, part firebomb thrown by a Transracial Adoptee who refuses to be silent. These poems are, to borrow from her own poems, unfiltered webs: poems for those who belong and don’t belong. Her voice is instantly essential. Welcome this book into a world that desperately needs it." - Bao Phi, author of Sông I Sing

"It is rare to find a book like The Translation of Han, a book that seamlessly weaves together pain, grief, loss, anger, heartbreak, isolation, love, passion, redemption, triumph, and the supernatural and places all of it within a broad context that includes multiple geographic locations, cultures, and identities. The book is deftly written. It is most certainly haunting. And it will definitely resonate with those of us who have struggled to find our way in the world." - Kevin Haebom Vollmers, founder of Land of Gazillion Adoptees

"Like a spirit guide, Hei Kyong Kim’s stunning debut leads us through overlapping worlds of family and identity, blood and body, language and food, eternally haunted by an unquenchable thirst for connection. As I read it, I felt lit with the glow of recognition and shook with pleasure at her bravura style. Whether measuring out intimate, lyric delight in the ‘tiny bird lips’ of her daughter or embellishing the sweeping narrative of her own birth, Kim’s is a voice in full command of its power. I would follow it anywhere." - Katie Hae Leo, author of the chapbook Attempts at Location, playwright, and essayist