Winner of the 2009 Borders Original Voices Award
A Best Historical Novel of 2009, The Washington Post
Shortlisted for the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize in Fiction

The Calligrapher’s Daughter fascinated me, as much for its characters as for its engrossing story of Korea under the Japanese occupation. Najin’s father is admirable for exactly the traits that make him difficult, and her apparently passive mother is heroic. I can’t stop thinking about them and their honest, brave, and very human daughter.”
—Alice Mattison, author of Nothing is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn and The Book Borrower
“In The Calligrapher's Daughter Eugenia Kim beautifully chronicles both the lost world of a traditional Korea and the lost childhood of her remarkable heroine. A coming-of-age story that resonates with larger significance, the novel movingly depicts the emotional cost of transformation and the love and sacrifice that makes transformation possible. The Calligrapher's Daughter is at once the story of a single life as well as the changing life of a nation and, while the details are fascinatingly exotic, the narrative rings with the hard won truths of profound human experience. It is a note-worthy debut from a writer with great heart and real empathy.”
—Sheridan Hay, author of The Secret of Lost Things
“This debut novel…is a beautiful, deliberate and satisfying story spanning 30 years of Korean history.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Kim opens a window into a vanished world in this sensitively rendered homage to her mother’s life…[an] achingly beautiful tribute to female perseverance and survival.”
“Eugenia Kim’s sensitive first novel, which depicts 30 years of Korea’s modern history in light of its ancient past, is an illuminating prequel to present-day events. . . . Kim recounts a poignant family history, much of it based on her own mother’s life. . . . The narrative is keenly and often lyrically observed. . . . A satisfying excursion into empathetically rendered lives.”
—Sybil Steinberg, Washington Post
“Eugenia Kim’s sweeping debut. . . rises tall from a riveting scene that begs to be read and re-read—as does her entire novel about the painful change that Japanese occupation and modern ways bring to traditional, ritualistic Korea. . . . Kim's prose is elegant, her eye compassionate, and her ability to effortlessly compress events over 30 years into a moving novel is admirable. But her greatest triumphs are her carefully calibrated and brave characters, who haunt you long after the novel is done.”
—Geeta Sharma Jensen, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“In this rich debut, drawn from Kim’s family history in Korea, a headstrong girl resists tradition, her father, and an arranged marriage to live her own life.”
—Good Housekeeping

“Gripping. . . . Eugenia Kim’s debut novel feels particularly fresh . . . The Calligrapher’s Daughter draws the reader’s attention through well-developed characters. . . . Kim creates a strong, sweet bond between mother and daughter that is maintained throughout the novel.”
—Anne Morris, Dallas Morning News
“Fans of Lisa See’s or Amy Tan’s novels should eagerly embrace Najin, and The Calligrapher’s Daughter bids fair to become a staple of book clubs. While the story is Najin’s, its true subject is Korea’s occupation by Japan.”
—Yvonne Zipp, Christian Science Monitor
“ . . . a sprawling, bouyant tale . . .”
—Drew Bratcher, Washingtonian

“Fascinating. . . . Kim based the novel on her mother and grandmother, paying moving homage to both, plus extensive research into Korean history, which is engrossing.”
—Marsha Dubrow,
“Kim has excelled at portraying Najin as a spirited yet loyal daughter and wife while exposing a tragic time during Korea’s sustained history as a nation.”
Library Journal
“A bold, richly detailed story about the young daughter of a well-known calligrapher in turn-of-the 20th-century Korea. . . . [A] vivid, heartfelt portrait of faith, love and life for one family during a pivotal time in history.”
—Amy Scribner, Bookpage

Borders Original Voices Selection
The Washington Post Critic's Pick
Publishers Weekly First Fiction Pick for Fall Summer Best Beach Reads Pick
The Denver Post “Hitting the Shelves” Editor’s Choice
National Geographic Traveler “New Books that Transport Us”