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‘A richly emotional portrait of a family that had me spellbound from page one’ Cheryl Strayed, bestselling author of Wild

The night before Janie’s sister, Hannah, is born, her grandmother tells her a story: Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, their family has lost a daughter in every generation, and Janie is told to keep Hannah safe.

Years later, when Hannah cuts all ties and disappears, Janie goes to find her. It is the start of a journey that will force her to confront her family’s painful silence, the truth behind her parents’ sudden move to America twenty years earlier, and her own conflicted feelings toward Hannah.

Weaving Korean folklore with a modern narrative of immigration and identity, Forgotten Country is a gripping story of a family struggling to find its way out of silence and back to one another.


A heartbreaking debut novel that will leave you quietly shattered in its wake. Forgotten Country is an exquisitely rendered account of a Korean immigrant family divided by two sisters, two countries and a curse that spans generations. Catherine Chung has written a haunting meditation on family loyalty and the lingering legacy of war
Julie Otsuka, author of The Buddha in the Attic
Chung delves with aching honesty and beauty into large, difficult questions - the strength and limits of family, the definition of home, the boundaries (or lack thereof) between duty and love - within the context of a Korean experience. Chung's limpid prose matches her emotional intelligence.
Kirkus Reviews (starred)
In this beautiful debut novel...Woven with tender reflections, sharp renderings of isolation, and beautiful prose...Chung simultaneously shines light on the violence of Korean history, the chill of American xenophobia, and the impossibility of home in either country
Publishers Weekly, starred review
Chung indelibly portrays a Korea viciously divided but ever bound to history, myth, and hope
O, The Oprah Magazine
A] lovely, elegiac novel . . . both heartbreaking and redemptive
Boston Globe
Published in the UK for the first time, this debut novel by Catherine Chung, author of The Tenth Muse, weaves together folklore and family ties. When Janie is a child, her grandmother tells her a story: since the Japanese occupation of Korea, their family has lost a daughter every generation. Years later, her sister Hannah disappears. Janie is left to unpick the truth about the brooding resentment and unspoken sacrifices that have led to history repeating itself
Herald (30 best beach and holiday books)
In Forgotten Country, Catherine Chung tells an inexpressibly beautiful story about a Korean family with a complex history... The story builds quietly, meticulously, and Chung does a masterful job of weaving the past with the present, incorporating mythology and memory in ways that both captivate and haunt
Roxane Gay, at The Rumpus
Luminous and surprising.... Chung brings a gentle, special gravity to this Korean family's tale of endurance... Forgotten Country is an impressive, memorable debut
San Francisco Chronicle
In her gorgeous debut, Chung offers a heartbreaking story about sisters, family, and keeping traditions alive
People magazine
It is a rare novel - debut or otherwise - that can sing at once with such tenderness and ferocity, with such intense feeling and exquisite restraint. Forgotten Country is just that book, poetically crafted, shimmering with hard-won emotion, and wholly absorbing. A superb performance
Chang-rae Lee
Catherine Chung's wonderful first novel is a moving and deeply personal story of a family caught between two very different countries and very different lives
Alison Lurie