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8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349016771

Price: £9.99

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SLAVE. ESCAPE-ARTIST. MURDERER. TERRORIST. SPY. LOVER. MOTHER. TRICKSTER.

At the Golden Sunset retirement home, it is not unusual for residents to invent stories. So when elderly Ms Mook first begins to unspool her memories, the obituarist listening to her is sceptical. Stories of captivity, friendship, murder, assumed identities and spying. A life that moves from WWII Indonesia to Busan during the Korean war; from cold-war Pyongyang to a Protestant church in China. The adventures are so colourful and various, at times so unbelievable. Surely they can’t all belong to the same woman. Can they?

8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2024, announced on 5th March 2024.

Reviews

A stunning debut from Mirinae Lee, 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster follows the incredible life of a woman, a shapeshifter, as she battles life near the North Korean border during the most turbulent times in Korean history. Lee is a master at storytelling, weaving the eight stories in a way that leaves you with questions, only to answer them with scenes that are sometimes horrific, sometimes touching, but always riveting
Lyn Liao Butler, author of Red Thread of Fate
The atrocity and suffering interwoven in these pages tell the splintered history of war and violence in twentieth-century Korea that keeps me awake at night. Mirinae Lee unravels human intentions and actions with devastating details, reminding us of many hearts of darkness. What's most striking, however, is the trust invested in the power of storytelling. The interlocking lives in the novel read like scar tissues that reopen and close. A mutual understanding is established as we re-examine the wounds that won't heal until they find their voice, until we listen.
Kit Fan, author of Diamond Hill
A gripping story set against the backdrop of Korea's turbulent history ... brilliant and original
Washington Post
A beguiling, complex tale of love and survival that will keep you riveted-and speculating-until the very end, thanks to Lee's brilliant talent for sleight of hand
Tor.com
A wild ride of a novel that embodies twentieth-century Korean history through the mesmerising, heartbreaking and deeply fractured personal history of one woman and her many incarnations.
Monica Ali
A turbulent novel traversing decades of Korean history, 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster interrogates love, identity, betrayal, and everything it takes for one shape-shifting "trickster" to survive. Lee writes with sharp, ferocious energy, and I was riveted from the first page. An exquisitely accomplished debut
Mira T. Lee, author of Everything Here is Beautiful
Mirinae Lee has created an unforgettable character and a bold, inventive narrative that takes us through history. But don't underestimate 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster; this astonishing, compassionate, and ambitious novel is more than story. Lee cares about how the story is told as much as the story itself. What an incredible debut.
Krys Lee, author of How I Became A North Korean
Fantastically original doesn't begin to describe this exhilarating, globe-spanning, decade-hopping masterpiece. Lee has achieved the impossible - from a fractured century of agonies and betrayals, she has woven a novel of immense beauty and regeneration
Junot Díaz
Lee's beautiful novel is a tale of survival, trauma, and love in the midst of modern Korea's most tumultuous times. Her metaphorical and lyrical language, brutal and unsettling storytelling, and masterful prose will keep readers hooked until the very end
Booklist (USA)
Soaring, fierce, bold, and intoxicating, 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster draws an unforgettable portrait of a Korean woman navigating her place in the world over the course of almost a hundred years. Lives that have been ruptured by war, totalitarianism, and unexpected family discoveries are explored with razor-sharp insight and shimmering detail. The lies we tell, the particles of pleasure we find amidst the pain, and how deception and the power of storytelling can lead us to our truest selves are all explored with phenomenal skill. An absolutely astonishing work of art
Marjan Kamali, author of The Stationery Shop of Tehran
Unflinching and tender, philosophical and mischievous, this playful novel conveys a sense of Korea's turbulent twentieth century through a charming, compelling protagonist who is not always a reliable narrator but who tells the truths that matter. I was captivated by Lee's masterful storytelling
Melissa Fu, author of Peach Blossom Spring
Smart, complex, inventive, melancholy
Kirkus (USA)
Outstanding ... enticing, profound and deeply moving. By the end, the reader is left with an intensely vivid picture of both North and South Korea during the mid-20th century, throughout multiple wars and times of national chaos
Bookpage (USA)
Seven accounts, told achronologically and ranging from 1938 to 2006, reveal a series of startling transformations involving cross-dressing, spying, identity theft, motherhood and murder ... A dazzling feat of narrative sophistication and historical invention
Financial Times
Mirinae Lee has magically created a new literary form, one that deftly weaves political intrigue, lyrical narration, sensuous description, and subtle humour. In her heroine's tender, harrowing reclaiming of her traumatized body, the reader, too, finds healing. 8 Lives packs the spellbinding, page-turning punch of a spy thriller while quietly delivering the lilting insights of Carmen María Machado and Ocean Vuong. Lee's debut marks the arrival of a riveting new voice on the global literary stage
Brittani Sonnenberg, author of Home Leave
Chilling, bold and masterful, Lee's dazzling debut slams into the head and the heart with dizzying, visceral force and commanding skill. Intricately and inventively plotted, 8 Lives of a Century-old Trickster is hard-wired with tension and suspense and bound tight with history
Kimberly Elkins, author of What Is Visible
A dazzling, visceral read. Intricately woven and playful, the prose has a brutal beating energy. At its heart is the fascinating Ms Mook, and the kaleidoscope of her life is a captivating history of Korea, a country torn apart
Catherine Cho, author of Inferno
Reading 8 Lives is like eating earth: unapologetically rebellious, breathtakingly exhilarating, and deeply painful. Korea's turbulent modern history as its backdrop, each story is artfully told through a magnetic character who embodies the peninsula's dark and complex past. Lee's debut is a gift to all storytellers of diasporic imagination
Joseph Juhn, director of Chosen
Enthralling, captivating, tantalising ... keeps readers hooked
New York Times
Grandma Mook ... has murdered four men, deceived her husband, and is a wanted terrorist. And yet, in a dazzling feat of storytelling, she is a lovable character. Her tales of brutality, grit, hope, love, and redemption are too fantastic to be untrue. This is a cracking good read, rich with social commentary and historical detail.
Historical Novel Society
Despite the darkness of the history it retells, this is primarily an adventure novel, fueled by the same righteous anger that turns ordinary mortals into masked superheroes
Wall Street Journal
In Mirinae Lee's 8-lives of a Century-Old Trickster, a sly, flinty protagonist summons all of her charm to survive one hundred years of tumult, espionage, and war. I have never put so much trust in a verified liar. Part spy novel, part ode to storytelling, Lee's debut captivated and surprised me.
Alyssa Songsiridej, author of Little Rabbit