Mia Kim’s debut novel, set in 1960s Korea, opens with a jolt: five-year-old Su-young is being beaten by the latest in a long line of foster parents. She is bleeding. Su-young’s mother, who lives and works at a US Army base on the outskirts of Seoul, whisks away her daughter (the father is unknown) and places her in the care of her sister. Every Saturday, she comes to visit – ‘Her visits validated me and sewed me, stitch by stitch, into the hem of her dress, reassuring me that I belonged to her’ – until, one day, she doesn’t.
Kim has a knack for observing the world through a young girl’s eyes. There’s an innocence to her simple storytelling and her childlike imagery: the sun plays ‘peekaboo, flickering between the leaves’ and weekends ‘glued themselves to weekdays’. An artist as well as a writer, Kim revels in