This Burns My Heart

by Samuel Park

This Burns My Heart

Paperback, 310 pages, Simon & Schuster, List Price: $15 | purchase


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  • Samuel Park

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Hardcover, 310 pages, Simon & Schuster, $25, published July 12 2011 | purchase

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  • This Burns My Heart
  • Samuel Park

Book Summary

Struggling to provide a good life for her daughter in spite of her own unhappy marriage and a culture that grants no rights to women, Soo-Ja Choi of 1960s Korea navigates the pitfalls of her conniving in-laws while longing for her true love, Doctor Yul.

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: This Burns My Heart

This Burns My Heart

“You tricked me,” she says, lying over a silk mat on the gold-colored floor, her husband next to her. In the dark, her words float above her, not really doing anything, without the punch and bite they have during the day. They hang there like fragments cast off from a comet, lingering over their bodies before lying down to rest.

When I could be with my father, my brothers, and waiting for my future.

She asks for closeness, for a man who pecks her on the cheek for no good reason as she walks by, or whose arm—warm, solid—is always there next to her own, his hands quick to reach for the small of her back. She hopes for the constant brushing of skin; the merging of silhouettes; the way arms and hands greet casually every day. This is what she imagines married life to be—bodies no longer separate, always feeling each other.

Instead, her husband moves around her like a child afraid of his mother, careful to avoid her space, never finding himself that near. His touch is never there, and she can feel its absence, pulling its weight down on her, leaving her cold, and with no memory of warmth. He lies next to her, still as a prowler, pretending to be asleep. He makes no noise, as if he were holding his breath.

You tricked me, you tricked me.

All she hears is the air slipping in and out of his nostrils, his face almost clenched, like a fist. He never tells her much, and she wonders where it goes, all the words and thoughts that he takes in. Maybe she, too, should lie awake, she thinks, storing pins in different parts of her body. And then when she wakes she will once again be with the quiet, distant man who writes beautiful letters but in person says nothing, looking terrified that she might hurt him. But one thing strikes her: he doesn’t deny that he tricked her.

© 2011 Samuel Park

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