With four awards to her name, a coveted TEDx Talk (http://youtu.be/GFD-6JFLF5A) and dozens of bookstore and media appearances, Maija Rhee Devine is making great waves in her quest to help people experience the smells, tastes and sounds of Korea through her compelling autobiographical novel. ‘The Voices of Heaven’ thrusts readers into the thick of the Korean War, as conflict drives apart one married couple living in a Romeo-and-Juliet-style bliss and their adopted daughter is left to figure out how to keep her parents’ love burning into the future. Devine’s narrative explores Confucian values, Korea’s rapid gender imbalance and how the nation’s conflict has effected its formidable female population. Kirkus Reviews hailed the book “. . . a realistic sketch of a Korea that few Westerners have seen . . . . A complex, uniquely Korean love story that shouldn’t be missed.”
Lee’s Summit, MO -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/02/2015 -- When she was just seven years old, Maija Rhee Devine received chocolates from American soldiers after crossing frozen ground while evacuating from Seoul. The Korean War was on, Russian aircraft roared overhead, and Devine's family had no idea where this displacement would take them.
Sixty-four years later, Devine has woven her story to produce what the Chautauqua Institution Book Award judges have stamped "a masterpiece of historic fiction." The comment speaks to 'The Voices of Heaven' as being so much more than the couple's love for each other, their dilemma of needing to invite a woman to live with them to produce a male child, and their home that paradoxically became happier through war. The book extends an invitation to the West to taste the history, culture and ultimately uniqueness of Koreans they otherwise wouldn't meet.
Fiction. Northeast Asian American Studies. The latest from Korean-American author Maija Rhee Devine, THE VOICES OF HEAVEN is a rare gem in English-language literature about Korea, a story that takes us deep into the devotion and secrets of a family living in Seoul at the cusp of the Korean War. A tale that spans decades, THE VOICES OF HEAVEN has been expertly woven together to reveal not only the injustices of unmitigated life circumstances but also the restorative power of truth and love. Maija Rhee Devine presents a stellar cast of empathetic characters to spin a tale that draws readers into the shadows of Korea's Confucian web that at once constrains and defines the powerful will of its people.
During the final years of the Japanese Occupation, when most Korean brides and grooms were still married sight unseen, Gui-yong and Eum-chun strike gold by finding a love as sweet as sticky rice. But their love for each other and for their secretly adopted daughter is not enough, as they must soon accept the impossible—a mistress moving in to bear Gui-yong the male child deemed necessary in a patriarchal society. After the Korean War drives the family apart, it falls on the shoulders of their adopted daughter, Mi-Na, to ultimately make sense of the past.
Flowing from her firsthand experience of growing up in Seoul during the Korean War, Maija Rhee Devine's novel reveals uniquely Korean colors and sounds as she leads readers through an extraordinary love story that parallels the tragedies of the war
"Westerners get plenty of exposure to stories about China, India and Japan; but Korea is still relatively unknown to them" stresses Devine, whose work has won an AAUW's Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award, 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award and ForeWord Reviews 2014 Book of The Year. "Korea has risen from the third-world to one of the top-fifteen economic superpowers, but the country is still deeply divided. By helping people understand my native land and its people better, we can find effective solutions to discord and thrive."
Continuing, "I tell our collective story through a 'Romeo and Juliet' romance tested by societal expectations and nurtured by a daughter who would not give up. I suppose I wanted to bring people into my childhood home. Gender and women's issues feature heavily within the narrative, as well as discussions about possible North/South unification, views of S. Koreans toward General MacArthur and President Truman, an the cultural differences between Korea, China and Japan. I take my story from the past to explore the real Korea of today."
About The Voices Of Heaven
Since its release, the novel has garnered rave reviews. David H. Lynn, editor of The Kenyon Review, comments, "'Maija Devine writes with a grace and illuminating power that is very rare. She manages to capture the fault line between cultures and languages desperately trying to connect and make sense of each other while remaining faithful to themselves. Her skill and promise are enormous; the power of her narrative art rewards any reader.''
Debra Goldberg adds, "The power of the book lies in the authenticity of the story that takes place during and after the Korean War and the evocative manner with which the author brings her characters to life. The finely textured writing puts Maija Devine's novel into the category of 'classics.' You will find it hard to put the book down."
'The Voices of Heaven' is available now: http://amzn.to/1tfgnVM