Please join us on Friday, March 15, 2024 at 7:00 PM as we welcome author Margaret Juhae Lee for a conversation about her new book, STARRY FIELD: A MEMOIR OF LOST HISTORY.
This event will be in person at the store at 6120 La Salle Ave., Oakland, CA 94611.
“Absorbing...Starry Field reminds us that even knowing where we came from won’t tell us where we’re going - but it will help along the way.” Susan Choi, National Book Award winning author of Trust Exercise
A poignant memoir for readers who love Pachinko and The Return by journalist Margaret Juhae Lee, who sets out on a search for her family’s history lost to the darkness of Korea’s colonial decades, and contends with the shockwaves of violence that followed them over four generations and across continents.
As a young girl growing up in Houston, Margaret Juhae Lee never heard about her grandfather, Lee Chul Ha. His history was lost in early twentieth-century Korea, and guarded by Margaret’s grandmother, who Chul Ha left widowed in 1936 with two young sons. To his surviving family, Lee Chul Ha was a criminal, and his granddaughter was determined to figure out why.
Starry Field: A Memoir of Lost History chronicles Chul Ha’s untold story. Combining investigative journalism, oral history, and archival research, Margaret reveals the truth about the grandfather she never knew. What she found is that Lee Chul Ha was not a source of shame; he was a student revolutionary imprisoned in 1929 for protesting the Japanese government’s colonization of Korea. He was a hero—and eventually honored as a Patriot of South Korea almost 60 years after his death.
But reclaiming her grandfather’s legacy, in the end, isn’t what Margaret finds the most valuable. It is through the series of three long-form interviews with her grandmother that Margaret finally finds a sense of recognition she’s been missing her entire life. A story of healing old wounds and the reputation of an extraordinary young man, Starry Field bridges the tales of two women, generations and oceans apart, who share the desire to build family in someplace called home.
Starry Field weaves together the stories of Margaret’s family against the backdrop of Korea’s tumultuous modern history, with a powerful question at its heart. Can we ever separate ourselves from our family’s past—and if the answer is yes, should we?
20 memorable photographs will be included.
About the Author
Margaret Juhae Lee is an Oakland-based writer and a former literary editor of The Nation magazine. She has been the recipient of a Bunting Fellowship from Harvard University, and a Korean Studies Fellowship from the Korean Foundation. She is also a Tin House scholar, and has been awarded residencies at the Mesa Refuge, the Anderson Center, and Mineral School. In 2020, she was named “Person of the Year” by the Sangcheol Cultural Welfare Foundation in Kongju, South Korea, for her work in honoring her grandfather, Patriot Lee Chul Ha. Her articles, reviews, and interviews have been published in The Nation, Newsday, Elle, ARTnews, The Advocate, The Progressive and The Rumpus.
"this winding investigation of long-buried family secrets succeeds" - Publishers Weekly
"Engaging, intriguing...[Starry Field is] a poignant reclamation of a hidden history, leavened by a sense of personal growth and understanding.” -- Kirkus Reviews