Ae-ran Kim’s My Brilliant Life explores family bonds and out-of-the-ordinary friendships, interweaving the past and present of a tight-knit family, finding joy and happiness in even the most difficult times.
This touching novel has been a favorite for many on the team at Forge, so we wanted to share some thoughts from Forge editor Robert Davis! Read more below on how he discovered My Brilliant Life and acquired it to publish in the US.
By Robert Davis
Some of my favorite reading experiences have been from books I wasn’t specifically looking for, from pulling the wrong book off the shelf with a similar title, to picking up the only novel in a waiting room.
Discovering Ae-ran Kim’s My Brilliant Life involved a similar moment of kismet. At the time I was looking for Korean suspense thrillers, reading translations and samples sent to me by the Literary Translation Institute of Korea, and one really stood out. While it wasn’t quite what I was looking for, the translation was fantastic. I asked if they had anything else from Chi-Young Kim (I later learned that she had won the Man Asian Literary prize for her translation of Please Look After Mom.), and they sent me the first 40 pages of My Brilliant Life.
My Brilliant Life interweaves the past and present of a tight-knit family, finding joy in even the most difficult times.
Areum has been listening to his parents’ often embellished stories about his family and childhood for as long as he can remember. After a series of lucid dreams, in which these stories come cinematically to life, Areum—having lived most of his life with an accelerated-aging disorder—pieces them together into a final gift to his mom and dad: Their own falling-in-love story.
I spent the night texting favorite lines to my friends, and in the morning told my publisher how badly I wanted to buy this book.
My Brilliant Life is one of those special stories that will reach readers from all walks of life. It’s short and sweet, but packs an emotional punch. Areum and his family will make you laugh and cry, sometimes all at once.
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