CHICAGO TRIBUNE: “Extraordinary… a page-turner of a book…South Korea provides not only the backdrop of Soo-Ja’s story but also the context for Park’s novel, which spans the decades after the Korean War to the beginning of the country’s economic boom.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES: “Park’s first novel looks at the punitive cultural rules that restricted women in 1960s South Korea. Stuck in an arid marriage, Soo-Ja longs for the man she forswore and sees her ambition reduced to carving out a successful future for her only daughter.”


TODAY.COM: “Samuel Park’s This Burns My Heart is a remarkable debut novel that comes steeped in romance and cultural history… Soo-Ja Choi, Park’s protagonist, is an ambitious young woman trapped in the oppressive South Korea of the 1960s. Yearning to realize her dreams of becoming a diplomat in Seoul, Soo-Ja makes a hasty choice that comes with a price.”

PEOPLE MAGAZINE: “Great Reads in Fiction…Stuck in an arid marriage, a dutiful wife in postwar South Korea longs for the man she forswore.”


THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: “Park does a good job of bringing the rapidly changing South Korea of the 1960s alive. As cities sprout from beanfields and rickshaws give way to Kias, the world around Soo-Ja and her family is changing at a frightening speed. . . . I especially recommend this novel to readers who were intrigued (as was I) by Lisa See’s Dreams of Joy, set in postwar China. The contrast is fascinating.”

THE BOSTON GLOBE: “Vivid…atmospheric…Park’s descriptions of antigovernment clashes and the martyrdom of a 12-year-old boy, in particular, provide eerily prescient reverberations of recent clashes in Syria.”



MIAMI HERALD: “Atmospheric and exuberantly filmic…Park manages to keep readers connected to Soo-Ja throughout the novel…a simple but visceral romance in a refreshing Korean setting.”


PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: “An unflappable heroine anchors Park’s epic post–Korean War love story…This is no quiet tale of yearning: the plot kicks in with an unexpected fierceness, and the ensuing action–a kidnapping, fist fights, blackmail–make for a dramatic, suck-you-in chronicle of a thrilling love affair.”

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: “Park melds a captivating love story with a detailed portrait of a nation rising out of the ruins of war.”


KIRKUS REVIEWS EDITOR’S PICK“A captivating debut novel from Chicago-based author Park… Park’s novel can be read as a contemplation of loss and the angst of unrequited love, much like Dr. Zhivago…Readers will be intrigued as Soo-Ja breaks from tradition to take control of her destiny, an emotionally charged personal drama played out against the backdrop of energetic South Korea as it transitions from a war-torn and oppressed country into a prosperous modern nation. Protagonist Soo-Ja’s story will enthrall in this first-rate literary effort.”

BOOKLIST: “First-time novelist Park orchestrates a vivid and involving novel about a Korean woman who is robbed of her dreams…Park portrays, with penetrating compassion, individuals trapped in soul-crushing, sexist traditions, meshing Soo-Ja’s long, anguished fight to live a fulfilling and meaningful life with postwar Korea’s march toward modernity. Smart, affecting, and unabashedly melodramatic, Park’s novel of adversity, moral clarity, and love is consuming and cathartic.”

LIBRARY JOURNAL: “Inspired by the life of Park’s mother, to whom the book is dedicated, this novel has the added gravitas of being embellished truth. It will surely claim a popular spot on the ever-growing shelves of sweeping historical titles starring long-suffering heroines in faraway locales, from Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls to Eugenia Kim’s more recent The Calligrapher’s Daughter.”

AUDREY MAGAZINE: “An understatedly brilliant tale of middle-class dysfunction told with Chekhovian aplomb. . . Park’s narrative has an epic quality. . . Through Soo-Ja’s eyes, Park beautifully evokes 1960s war-torn South Korea, a country struggling between conflicting impulses to preserve or rebuild. Written with clarity and elegant restraint, This Burns My Heart is sure to engage.”

TIME OUT CHICAGO: “[A] harrowing, emotionally dense debut . . . set to the music of sensuous prose . . . like all good love stories, it lets go of the ambiguity it’s built when the time is right. The path is long and surprising, the drama is high, there’s pain involved, and the twists and turns are reliably, recognizably and realistically unpredictable.”

THE STRANGER: “Samuel Park’s engrossing first novel . . . bravely flirts with the fire of melodrama. . . . The best part of This Burns My Heart is that its resolution is not the point, not a justification of all the pages that went before but a triggering of sorrow that those pages have passed, like a replay of Soo-Ja’s own dilemma.”


This Burns My Heart is quietly stunning–a soft fierce story that lingers in the mind. Samuel Park is a deft and elegant writer; this is a very exciting debut.”

–AUDREY NIFFENEGGER, New York Times Bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry

“A delicate yet powerful story of love, loss, and endurance. The emotional world of the heroine, Soo-Ja, is beautifully realized. I found myself caught up in her dramas from start to finish, and was reluctant to part with her at the novel’s close. A lovely, romantic, haunting book.”

–SARAH WATERS, Booker Prize-nominated New York Times best-selling author of Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith, and The Little Stranger

“The very talented Samuel Park weaves a compelling, vivid story of one family’s evolution that deftly mirrors Korea’s development from ancient country to modern society.”

–JANICE Y. K. LEE, New York Times bestselling author of The Piano Teacher

“Samuel Park’s astonishing novel This Burns My Heart provides mesmerizing perspective into the life of a Korean wife and lover, intricate and intimate as only a woman’s secret life can be.”

–JENNA BLUM, New York Times best selling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers

This Burns My Heart is at once a passionate and sensitive love story and a fascinating historical novel set against the cultural dislocations of a rising South Korea.  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

“This Burns My Heart never loses touch with the human passion at the core of its epic romance.  Writing prose with the beauty of poetry, Samuel Park traces a young woman’s journey to hard-won maturity, alongside the meteoric rise of post-war Korea, in a novel which shines with eloquence and wisdom.”

–DAVID HENRY HWANG, Tony-award winning author of M. Butterfly and Golden Child

“This Burns My Heart captured me with a heroine who is both irresistible and flawed, and engrossed me with increasing twists in a triangle of love and sacrifice. The story explores how a fateful choice colors a decade of marriage, and challenges a young woman’s ambition already constrained by traditional Korean culture. Samuel Park paints all the flavors of post-war Korea in this vivid debut, and his understanding and expression of the human heart is universal.”

–EUGENIA KIM, author of The Calligrapher’s Daughter

“Both an epic love story and an intimate depiction of life in post-war Korea, Samuel Park’s novel introduces a singular heroine whose passions, struggles, and triumphs are mirrored in our own. Park is one of those rare writers whose talent transcends the limits of race and gender.”

–WENDY LEE, author of Happy Family


“A paean to youth, love, longing, and literature, SHAKESPEARE’S SONNETS is evocative and bittersweet.”

–CURTIS SITTENFELD, New York Times best-selling author of Prep and American Wife

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