Tag Archives: Please Look After Mom

Asian Heritage Month Ends with a Winner!

Asian Heritage Month Ends with a Winner!

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

May has come and gone and the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event is now over at The Bibliotaphe’s Closet.

It was not only an honour to feature different cultural aspects and literature about Asian places such as Japan, China, and Tibet, it was also a learning experience for me (and I’m Asian!).

Special post highlights for me were features on the geisha, the Tibetan language, and the various children’s books about Japan, China, Tibet, and Korea, and learning the translations of my own name in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Tibetan.

My chinese name: Zhenrui
My Japanese name: 清水 Shimizu (clear water) 子 Aiko (child of the morning sun).
My Korean name: Park Dae Rae
My Vietnamese name: Ai Le
My Tibetan name.


To see the posts featured for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

And what better way to celebrate Asia then with a winner of the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event Giveaway?

I am happy to announce that a fellow vocalist and book reviewer has won the coveted prize of the book, Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin, winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize. You can read my review here.



I-Ching was certainly in this entrant’s favour!

Congratulations to…


Margaret, a Literary Chanteuse!

I’m positive she’ll be “singing a great tune” when she receives the book in the mail and finishes reading it.

Thanks to all who visited my blog and entered the giveaway contest.

Just a kind reminder that the Cherry Blossom (or Asian Theme) Photo Contest is still open until the end of June. If you don’t have a photo of cherry blossoms to submit, photos portraying an Asian theme are more than welcome.


The prizes are books related to the Cherry Blossom and will be delivered by The Book Depository.

Depending on the amount and quality of photos that are submitted, more winners and prizes may be added to the pile!

So, get your photos in!

Cherry blossoms at Kariya Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.


For more details about the Cherry Blossom (or Asian Theme) Photo Contest, please visit here.


And a special thanks to L.R. of Random House of Canada and Vintage Canada publishers for kindly providing the literary prize for this contest. Looking for your next great read? You can check out new titles at their website here.


May we all continue to work together to encourage respect, reading, and inclusivity!

Book Review: Please Look After Mom by Kyung Sook-Shin

Book Review:

Please Look After Mom by Kyung Sook-Shin


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis


Category: Fiction

Author: Kyung-Sook Shin

Format: Trade Paperback, 254 pages

Publisher: Vintage Canada

ISBN: 978-0-307-35920-9

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

Man Asian Literary Prize Winner of 2011


Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin is not only the recipient of the Man Asian Literary Prize for 2011, it is also a peek at the restrained nuances in relationship within a particular Korean family and a testament to the hidden gift they received from the persevering love of a mother.

Kyung-Sook Shin


But even then, it is more than that. It is, in its simple and direct narrative by daughter, son, husband, and eventually mother, a slow revelation of So-Nyo’s secret character fuelled by repressed desire and discarded “dreams.”

Slowly, as you read further into the book, 69-year-old So-Nyo’s life and character is revealed through the perception of her loved ones as they attempt to piece together the clues that may eventually lead them back to their mother after her sudden disappearance as last seen at the Seoul subway station.

Seoul Subway Station Line 7


It is a story filled with sorrow, loneliness, and neglect—a story of how a family can misinterpret a woman, not by who she is, but by who they believe her to be because of her role as a mother.

And this mother, So-Nyo, does in so many ways sacrifice of herself for the sake of her husband and her five children.

Though she was illiterate, she exceeded in her knowledge and gift of domesticity. She knew how to till the earth to make things grow—food, for the survival of her family at a time of poverty and uncertainty.


She swallowed her pride for the sake of Korean propriety and tradition and continued in her persevering love towards her husband after restlessness, betrayal, and cold neglect—and towards her children after years of indifference, rebellion, irritation, and condescension.

The story is as much a story about So-Nyo’s husband and children as it is about So-Nyo in their response or lack of response to her, after taking her and her role as matriarch in the family for granted.

But the novel is not written in a cruel manner as much as it sounds, but written as a matter-of-fact—a quasi-memoir of regretful and loving memories of one who was an integral person in the core of their family and yet so unknown.

It is a story that will remind us of the importance of honouring our mothers, the elderly, and the sick as a priority in our often ambitious desires and busy lives.

It is an intimate peek at the Korean cultural expectations of mother and wife and some of the injustice associated with that, that is largely due to its acceptance—and the powerful regret that results in honouring and loving our wives and our mothers too late.



For a sober look at Samaritan love and sacrifice and silence and the burden of responsibility, embedded cultural practices, and the difficult choices one must make to honour both, Please Look After Mom, is a sad story, a testimony to motherhood, and a keen warning to us all.


Zara’s Rating


A special thank you to Vintage Canada and Random House of Canada for providing me with a media copy of the book in exchange for an unpaid and honest review.


To get a chance to win a copy of Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin, you can enter The Asian Heritage Month Blog Event Giveaway via The Bibliotaphe’s Closet. Open to CAN & U.S. residents. Ends June 1, 2012.


To read more posts for The Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, you can visit here.


Asian Heritage Month Giveaway at The Bibliotaphe’s Closet! Ends June 1. CAN & U.S. only – CLOSED

Asian Heritage Month Giveaway

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada!

As an Asian, a cultural enthusiast, and an advocate of racial justice, I’d like to take the opportunity to host The Asian Heritage Month Blog Event at The Bibliotaphe’s Closet for the month of May.

The purpose of this cultural-specific blog event is to advocate the opportunity for all to reflect on and celebrate the beauty and diversity of various Asian cultures and its music, film, art, and literature.


In celebration of Asian Heritage Month, what better way than to host another giveaway? At the end of the month, followers of The Bibliotaphe’s Closet will have a chance to win the international bestseller and winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, the book, Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin published by Vintage Canada!

Kyung-Sook Shin

Author: Kyung-Sook Shin

Format: Trade paperback

Publisher: Vintage Canada

Page Count: 254

ISBN: 978-0-307-35920-9

Winner of The Man Asian Literary Prize 2011

From the back cover:

When sixty-nine-year-old So-Nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station, her family begins a desperate search to find her. Yet as long-held secrets and private sorrows begin to reveal themselves, they are forced to wonder: how well did they actually know the woman they called Mom?

Told through the piercing voices and urgent perspectives of a daughter, son, husband, and mother, Please Look After Mom is at once an authentic picture of contemporary life in Kore and a universal story of family love.


To see my review on Please Look After Mom, you can visit here.

Giveaway Rules:

  1. This giveaway is open to Canada and the U.S.
  2. You must have a valid email and mailing address to qualify. No P.O. Box addresses accepted.
  3. You must be 15 years old or older to enter.
  4. You must follow my blog to enter and complete the online form below.
  5. Only one entry per person, excluding extra-earned entries.
  6. A winner will be chosen randomly.
  7. Winner must respond to notification within 48 hours to claim prize. If winner fails to claim prize, a new winner will be chosen.
  8. Contest ends Friday, June 1¸2012 at 11:59 p.m. EST
  9. For further details, please visit Zara Alexis’ Giveaway Contest Policy.

To enter, please complete the form below:


A special thank you to Vingtage Canada and L.R. of Random House of Canada for generously providing the book Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin as the prize for this giveaway.


This contest is also listed at Contest Girl. For more contests check out her site!

Doing the Dewey Read-a-Thon: Off to the Races! 04.21.2012

Doing the Dewey Read-a-Thon:

Off to the Races!

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Okay, I’m an hour-and-a-half late. The Dewey started at 8:00 a.m. and looky here: it’s already almost 10:00 a.m.! Yikes!

I’m not sure how successful I’ll be today in consideration I have two young ones:

A hyperactive eight-year-old who enjoys narrating the latest adventures of The Legend of the Dragon in detail and a two-year-old who will throw a panic attack if she doesn’t have her specific pink, fleece blanket in her arms.

Ang, the Dragon Temple Guardian.

And did I mention I have a really messy house with potentially five loads of laundry, three loads of dishes, and bathrooms that need a good sponge down?

Okay. Deep breath.

But, I’ve committed myself to reading. I love marathons!

(For those of you who don’t know, I used to be a long-distance runner, a girl on the Track & Field Team and the Cross Country Team—my ideal event, the 1500—though I also ran the 3000!)

So here’s a lovely pile of books I’d like to hide with today:

  1. The Rest Is Silence by Scott Fotheringham
  2. The Gathering by Kelly Armstrong
  3. Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook-Shin
Realistically, I doubt I’ll get through any more than those (if I do, that is!)
So, ready? Let the races begin!