Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Color of Water by Kim Dong Hwa

I liked The Color of Earth better than this second graphic novel in Kim's trilogy based on stories told to him by his mother. He calls them "little gems from my mother's life at sixteen." Some of the episodes seem to be of a much younger girl's experience, which is partly why I didn't find the story entirely convincing. Ehwa's unfamiliarity with the shape of a man's penis, for example. On the other hand, her unfamiliarity with the similarity between the smell of chestnut blossoms and semen was fully plausible. The description of Ehwa's first experience with masturbation was overly twee and I think that extends to the rest of the book; too flowery and sweet. And then there's the repeated emphasis on the importance of looking pretty in order to attract a good man. On the plus side, the lush evocation of setting and culture - late 19th century village life in Korea - makes this an interesting read and Kim's delicate artwork is gorgeous. The close relationship between Ehwa and her widowed mother is another aspect that kept me turning the pages.

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