by Kyung-Sook Shin
South Korea, 1970.
San is a lonely child, ostracised from her community. She soon finds a friend in a girl called Namae, until one afternoon changes everything. Following a moment of intimacy in a minari field, Namae violently rejects San, setting her on a troubling path.
We next meet San, aged twenty-two, when she happens upon a job at a flower shop in Seoul's bustling city centre. Over the course of one hazy, volatile summer, San is introduced to a curious cast of characters - the mute shop owner, a brash co-worker, kind farmers and aggressive customers - and fuelled by a quiet desperation to jump-start her life, she plunges headfirst into obsession with a passing magazine photographer. Throughout it all, San's moment with Namae continues to linger in the back of her mind.
A story of thwarted desire, misogyny and erasure, Violets reveals the high stakes involved in one woman's desperate search for both autonomy and attachment in an unforgiving society.
Published: April 2022