Finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Keum Suk Gendry-Kim was an adult when her mother revealed a family secret: She had been separated from her sister during the Korean War. It’s not an uncommon story—the peninsula was split across the 38th parallel, dividing one country into two. As many fled violence in the north, not everyone was able to make it south. Her mother’s story inspired Gendry-Kim to begin interviewing her and other Koreans separated by the war; that research fueled a deeply resonant graphic novel.
The Waiting is the fictional story of Gwija, told by her novelist daughter Jina. When Gwija was 17 years old, after hearing that the Japanese were seizing unmarried girls, her family married her in a hurry to a man she didn't know. Japan fell, Korea gained its independence, and the couple started a family. But peace didn’t come. The young family of four fled south. On the road, while breastfeeding and changing her daughter, Gwija was separated from her husband and son.
Then seventy years passed. Seventy years of waiting. Gwija is now an elderly woman and Jina can’t stop thinking about the promise she made to help find her brother.
"A testament to the generational familial trauma that is wrought by colonialism, political strife and war."—Karla Strand, Ms. Magazine
"Affecting . . . Gendry-Kim’s spare, elegant panels—some composed only of dark figures surrounded by white space and outlines—suggest the perplexing ways the past empties us out."—Hamilton Cain, Oprah Daily
“How can black and white drawings do this, you might ask. But maybe only black and white drawings can do this—Gendry-Kim offers us here a glimpse of the heart of a woman who has lost more than some might ever find, and who has never given up her love, if not her hope. The Waiting is a stunning achievement, and a testament to the power of her artistry. Not a line or word feels out of place.”—Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“The Waiting is a moving, beautifully drawn, masterfully told reflection on how history imposes itself, scatters people, and leaves so many lives unresolved.”—Joe Sacco, author of Palestine
"Another stunning masterpiece . . . Gendry-Kim’s stark black-and-white compositions couldn’t be more affecting . . . and prodigiously empathic."—Booklist (starred review)
"This family portrait reveals in heartbreaking detail the impacts of colonization and political upheaval that reverberate for generations."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)