Palimpsest: Documents from a Korean Adoption by Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom, translated by Hanna Strömberg [in Booklist]
Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom opens with definitions of two seemingly unrelated, yet brilliantly paired, words: palimpsest, “a very old text or document in which writing has been removed and covered or replaced by new writing,” and adoption, “the act of legally taking a child to be taken care of as your own.”
In May 1979, 2-year-old Chung Wool Rim became Lisa Sjöblom, part of a 9,000-plus statistic of Korean children sent to Sweden as adoptees in the 1970s to ’80s. Her birth identity and birth culture are “completely erased,” making her “an empty vessel for other people to fill with their own story.” Inevitably, “our first families disappear completely from our own stories. And so do we.”
In her mid-20s, Sjöblom began the reclamation of her origin story, embarking on a decades-long grueling odyssey, which she meticulously documents in her graphic novel debut, originally published in Sweden in 2016, translated here by Sjöblom herself; her partner, Richey Wyver; and polyglot translator Hanna Strömberg. Raw, can’t-turn-away, angry Sjöblom confronts the “gaping holes … filled with lies” to vitally, finally tell her own authentic story.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2016 (Sweden), 2020 (United States)