1964 National Book Award nominee
Publisher: Braziller (1964)
RICHARD KIM's breathtaking novel, THE MARTYRED (Penguin Classics; ISBN: 978-0-14-310640-1; $16.00; 240 pages; also available as an e-book), begins during the early weeks of the Korean War. Captain Lee, a young South Korean officer, is ordered to investigate the kidnapping and mass murder of North Korean ministers by Communist forces. For propaganda purposes, the priests are declared martyrs, but as he delves into the crime, Lee finds himself asking: what if they are not martyrs? What if they renounced their faith in the face of death, failing both God and country? Should the people be fed this lie? Part thriller, part mystery, part existential treatise, THE MARTYRED is a stunning meditation on truth, religion, and faith in the time of crisis.
"Written in a mood of total austerity; and yet the passion of the book is perpetually beating up against its seemingly barren surface ... I am deeply moved."
– Philip Roth
"An extraordinary book. To take one incident and through it express the universal need of the human heart for God ... the agony of doubt combined with the longing to believe, is difficult indeed. Kim has accomplished just this."
– Pearl S. Buck
"Kim's book stands out as one written in the great moral and psychological tradition of Job, Dostoevsky, and Albert Camus ... it is a magnificent achievement, and it will last."
– The New York Times Book Review
Originally published in 1964 by Braziller, The Martyred was reissued by Penguin Classics in May 2011, with an introduction by Heinz Insu Fenkl and an foreword by Susan Choi.
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (1968)
Publisher: Praeger (1970)
University of California Press (1998, 2011)
In this classic tale, Richard E. Kim paints seven vivid scenes from a boyhood and early adolescence in Korea at the height of the Japanese occupation, 1932 to 1945. Taking its title from the grim fact that the occupiers forced the Koreans to renounce their own names and adopt Japanese names instead, the book follows one Korean family through the Japanese occupation to the surrender of the Japanese empire. Lost Names, which was praised in the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere, is at once a loving memory of family and a vivid portrayal of life in a time of anguish.
March 2011 marked the publication of UC Press's 40th Anniversary Edition of Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood. The 40th Anniversary Edition includes a never-before-published speech by Richard Kim, given at the Fiftieth International PEN conference in 1987.
Read the excerpt here on the UCal Press blog, or download a longer PDF version.
Originally published in 1964 by Praeger, Lost Names was reissued by the University of California Press in 1998, and a special 40th Anniversary Edition was released in 2011 with the new preface.
Richard E. Kim, 77, died June 23, 2009 at his home in Shutesbury, Massachusetts, surrounded by his family.
Kim, a celebrated novelist, essayist, and professor of literature, published his first novel, "The Martyred," in 1964 to wide critical acclaim. It was nominated for a National Book Award in 1965 and was translated into 14 languages. In his native Korea, it was made into a play, an opera, and a film. It was followed by "The Innocent" in 1968 and "Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood" in 1970.
Kim Eun Kook, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was born in 1932 in Hamheung in North Korea. After serving in the Republic of South Korea military during the Korean War, he came to the United States in 1955.
He was educated at Middlebury College in Vermont, where he studied political science and history, 1955-59; at Johns Hopkins University (M.A. in writing, 1960); at the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop (M.F.A., 1962); and at Harvard University (M.A. in Far Eastern languages and literature, 1963).
His academic experience included various professorships in English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Syracuse University, San Diego State University, and at Seoul National University, where he was a Fulbright professor from 1981 to 83.
His many awards and honors included a Ford Foundation Foreign Area Fellowship (1962-63), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1966), and a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowship (1978-79).
He was the founder and president of Trans-Lit Agency, a literary agency devoted to establishing international copyrights for works being published in Korea.
His photo essay book, "Lost Koreans in China and the Soviet Union: Photo-Essays," was published in 1989. His documentary work, for KBS-TV of Seoul, included "200 Years of Christianity in Korea" (1981), "The Korean War" (1983), "On Japan" (1984), "Reflections on the Wartime Massacres" (1985), "A Passage to Manchuria" (1987), "In Search of Lost Koreans in the Soviet Union" (1988), and "The Great Trans-Siberian Railway" (1989). He was a columnist for "The Korea Herald" and "The Chosun Ilbo" (Korea Daily) in Seoul, 1981-84.
He is survived by his wife Penelope, his son David of Washington, D.C., and his daughter Melissa, of Portland, Maine, his sister Eun Kyoung Ahn of Seoul, Korea, his brother Eun Yong Kim, of Orinda, California, four grandchildren, Anna, Jackson, Ryan and Christian, and five nieces and nephews, Sumy Ahn, Suzin Ahn, Renee Hafer, Steven Kim, and Miranne Kim. His sister Sylvia Lee of Walnut Creek, California, passed away in 2017.
A Study Guide for Lost Names from The Korea Society [PDF file]
History as Literature, Literature as History: From Education About Asia magazine, Fall 1999, articles including an interview by EAA editorial board member Kathy Masalski with Richard E. Kim and essays by a junior high, senior high school, and university instructor on how they have used Lost Names as a highly effective teaching tool.