The title of your book is intriguing. Which is the country that is forgotten, Korea or the United States? Or is it a metaphor for what an immigrant has to leave behind?--Marshal Zeringue
The title worked in a few different ways that I liked. It refers to Korea—not only the Korea that the family in the book leaves behind, but the Korea that was lost when it was divided. In my book, I wanted the break between the sisters to be a kind of echo of that split—and for the family’s exile from their homeland (where they belonged, where they felt whole) to be an echo of the loss of that older Korea. On a metaphorical level, the title also refers to the sisters’ estrangement—so the forgotten country is their childhood closeness, their innocence and the past.
You have a degree in mathematics as well as creative writing. What effect, if any, does math have on your writing?
It’s funny: When I was a math major in college I wrote stories all the time, and now whenever I write, I’m always sneaking in some math. I love both disciplines because it seems to me that they’re both ultimately about learning how to make sense of the world, trying to organize the chaos and describe and communicate it in a meaningful and beautiful way.
Siblings play such an important role in your book. Do you have siblings, and what makes that relationship so special?
I have...[read on]