An epic story of love, war, and redemption set against the backdrop of the Korean independence movement.
"A stunning chronicle of the Korean peninsula, by turns political and sensual, epic and intimate. This novel will devastate you and then still you with its wise meditations on love and loss. I couldn’t put it down."
— Alexis Schaitkin, author of Saint X
"Elegant and wise, lush and immersive, Beasts of a Little Land is Tolstoyan in its sweep and ambition as it brings to life the Korean struggle against Japanese occupation. Juhea Kim is a conjurer of rare ability whose magnificent debut utterly enchants."
— Keija Parssinen, author of The Unraveling of Mercy Louis
In 1917, deep in the snowy mountains of occupied Korea, an impoverished hunter on the brink of starvation saves a young Japanese officer from an attacking tiger. In an instant, their fates are connected—and from this encounter unfolds a saga that spans half a century.
In the aftermath, a young girl named Jade is sold by her family to Miss Silver’s courtesan school, an act of desperation that will cement her in the lowest social status. When she befriends a local orphan boy named JungHo, who scrapes together a living begging on the streets of Seoul, they form a deep friendship. As they come of age, JungHo is swept up in the revolutionary fight for independence, and Jade becomes a sought-after performer with a new romantic prospect of noble birth. Soon Jade must decide whether she will risk everything for the one who would do the same for her.
From the perfumed chambers of a courtesan school in PyongYang to the glamorous cafes of a modernizing Seoul and the boreal forests of Manchuria, where battles rage, Juhea Kim’s unforgettable characters forge their own destinies as they wager their nation’s. Immersive and elegant, Beasts of a Little Land unveils a world where friends become enemies, enemies become saviors, heroes are persecuted, and beasts take many shapes.
The last tiger killed in Korea, 1921.