Najin comes of age in a period of political and social upheaval in Korea. She has opportunities of education and employment that her mother could only dream of, but much is lost. Beautifully written, The Calligrapher's Daughter embodies traditional Korean values of composure, dignity and artistry. It's not a happy story, but thanks to Najin's resilience, hope and love are the victors.
'Men need water to live, but cannot move as it does. Women are like the water that flows, feeds and travels over and under man's two feet stuck solidly in the earth. We are liquid. It is from us that he emerges, drinks and grows. And so,' said Mother, brushing aside my hair sprouting wildly from restless braids and bronze combs, ' when your father seems gruff, I want you to remember this. Women are especially blessed in a way that men can never grasp. Keep God's love in your heart and remember this always.'
'Yes, Umma-nim.' I clasped my hands tightly together in my lap, to prevent the secret of water from leaking between my fingers.