This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park
A Novel

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In this compelling love story set in postwar Korea in the 1960s, an unhappily married woman struggles to give her daughter a good life and to find love in a society caught between ancient tradition and change.

Beautiful and ambitious, Soo-Ja Choi attempts to find happiness in a land where wives have no rights and mothers own nothing, where love remains elusive, and the only way to survive is to live the lessons of Confucian tradition: perseverance, strength, loyalty, and grace. Charting her way through an ill-advised marriage, Soo-Ja must navigate the intrigue and dangers of living with her conniving in-laws, all the while longing for her true love of the past, the elusive Doctor Yul. And when he enters her life again, Soo-Ja is confronted with a final chance at happiness, but must make a mother’s ultimate choice.

Epic and intimate, Park’s debut offering—based on his own mother’s story—is a snapshot of a nation rising from a poor, rural country into a major world power in the aftermath of a devastating war. This Burns My Heart evokes a strong sense of place and era reminiscent of Sarah Waters, and the richly drawn characters and exploration of women’s changing roles brings to mind Lisa See. 

About Samuel Park

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Korean-American author Samuel Park was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil until the age of fourteen. His novel This Burns My Heart was chosen as a “Best Book of 2011” by Amazon, Kirkus Reviews, and BookPage. It was named one of NPR’s “Freshest Reads” and Today’s “Favorite Things,” and has been translated into four languages. He is an assistant professor of English at Columbia College and lives in Chicago. Visit Samuel Park at
Published July 12, 2011 by Simon & Schuster. 322 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for This Burns My Heart

Kirkus Reviews

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A captivating debut novel from Chicago-based author Park.

Jun 28 2011 | Read Full Review of This Burns My Heart: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Although her feelings for Yul are strong, she marries Min and is immediately faced with the cold realities of his corrupt and hateful family and the realization that she isn't any closer to getting to Seoul.

May 16 2011 | Read Full Review of This Burns My Heart: A Novel

Christian Science Monitor

“Please Look After Mom” – the searing story of a family’s search for their missing mother by award-winning South Korean novelist Shin Kyung-sook – has now been published in 27 countries and in at least 18 languages.

Sep 24 2011 | Read Full Review of This Burns My Heart: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

In his heroine Soo-Ja, Samuel Park has created an emotionally resonant character that readers will root for and long remember."—John Burnham Schwartz, bestselling author of The Commoner and Reservation Road "Both an epic love story and an intimate depiction of life in p...

Aug 07 2011 | Read Full Review of This Burns My Heart: A Novel

Newcity Lit

in fact the opposite: temperamental, given to passions, sentimental to a fault.” “This Burns My Heart” puts a human face to history, demonstrating the searing effect of rising expectations for freedom and prosperity within a nation ruled by a regime autocratic in substance but paying lip service...

Dec 27 2011 | Read Full Review of This Burns My Heart: A Novel

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