Announcing the First Book of The Grand Narrative Book Club: “If I Had Your Face” by Frances Cha, Thursday 27 January 7:00pm

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes.

If you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my books.

Or, if you just want to be my friend (your loss!), I’ll settle for a shared love of books in general.

Just as in a romance though, a relationship on that basis can still entail a bittersweet mix of passion and frustrated longing. Specifically, as my own taste in books has rarely meshed with my friends’, I’ve found there’s only so much I can wax lyrical about my latest conquests when they’re so unlikely to ever read them themselves. And with 52 books read in 2021, plus a goal of 72 in 2022, that’s of lot of pent-up passion not to have an outlet for.

But you already know where it’s going to go now.

As I type this, I’m loving If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha, “a fierce social commentary about gender roles, class divisions and, yes, plastic surgery in South Korea.” I’ve been especially struck by how realistically Cha depicts the daily lives and conversations of the four main young(ish) Korean female characters, much more so than in previous Korean or Korea-related fiction I’ve encountered. “Finally,” I said to myself, “I’ve found characters in a book talking just like my Korean friends and I talk!”

Yet we’re not in our 20s or early-30s either. Beyond the swearing and sex talk that I love so much, does Cha indeed portray their lives realistically? It’s been especially difficult for someone with my background to tell, slowing down my reading with so many nagging thoughts and questions.

Then something occurred to me in the shower. It’s a popular book, making Time’s list of 100 must-read books in 2020 for instance, meaning there’s many of you out there with your own opinions, insights, and maybe even your own nagging questions. So why not share them with each other on Zoom?

I’m envisaging something very intimate and informal, cameras on, with a maximum of 12 participants (but in practice probably much fewer than that). To ensure it’s as safe a space as possible, I’ll screen all attendees as much as I’m able, the Zoom link will be invite only, and once it’s started I’ll be very busy behind the scenes to ensure things run smoothly.

Just for that last reason alone, I want to be clear that this will be a discussion, and definitely not any kind of lecture, webinar, or even dominated by me. While in my duties as host I will have prepared many hopefully interesting questions and potential talking points to raise if necessary, I strongly encourage—nay, demand—everyone attending to come up with at least couple of their own (please!).

For those amongst you who are interested but haven’t read the book yet, I’m thinking that by Thursday, January 27 is plenty of time to order, read, and digest it, and that 7pm on that evening (Korean time) is both late enough to drink eat first, and early enough to get a discussion of a decent length in before people get tired. We could also decide the next month’s book then too.

If you’re interested in attending, please leave a comment below (your email address will only be visible to me) or contact me, and I’ll get in touch in a group email closer to the date. Any thoughts, suggestions, and advice for running a book club would also be very welcome.

See you on Zoom!

If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)

8 thoughts on “Announcing the First Book of The Grand Narrative Book Club: “If I Had Your Face” by Frances Cha, Thursday 27 January 7:00pm

  1. I found your vlog through your one million yen girl review, and I was so amazed when I saw that you have been doing this since 2007! I have never explored this kind of media before, since I was born into the era of vlogs and YouTube. I am looking forward to reading your future posts and just want to commend you for your great work :>

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, One Million Yen Girl? That does take me back!

      Actually, if I knew then what I know now, TBH I wouldn’t be blogging at all, but would have gone the route of YouTube with brainy, longform, deep analyses of pop culture etc. like The Nerdwriter instead.

      Not being savvy enough and so still blogging however (sigh), almost all the short stuff I would have posted here 10 years ago now goes to Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram instead (sorry to those few readers not on social media!), and I reserve the blog for long, research-intensive posts. Unfortunately though, these days I seem to have more ideas than the motivation and time to put the hard work into bringing them to life here ㅠㅠ, and social media takes a lot of time all by itself.

      But knowing that some people might enjoy long posts does help with overcoming that. So thanks very much for your kind words, and I’ll try to repay it with completing my next post soon! :)

      Like

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