‘In the Wind’ by Jung Mi-kyung, translated from the Korean by Yu Young-nan

Sometimes a story just hits you out of the blue. I enjoyed the first two stories in My Son’s Girlfriend, but they didn’t prepare me for this… ‘In the Wind’ starts innocuously enough, with its narrator looking at the quivering bunch of cells in the Petri dish before her, and wondering if IVF is really what she wants. Then, somehow, the story got under my skin.

Admittedly, I am a sucker for patterning in stories, and there is plenty of that here. The clump of cells looks to the protagonist like a flower, and there are recurring images of petals, and fragile things blowing on the wind. Jung’s narrator also sees the cells as being somewhere between mere existence and ‘life’ proper; and she has similar uncertainties about other things – her own life, her relationships.

But that’s not enough to account for the visceral reaction I had to ‘In The Wind’. This is a story that burrowed down into me and wouldn’t be coaxed back out. I think it’s the ordinariness of the narrator’s voice that allowed her doubts to spread and fester, up to the final line: “I shuddered violently at the thought that nothing had changed.”

(Read and published in the collection My Son’s Girlfriend, Dalkey Archive Press, 2013)

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