Long for This World

A Novel

Long for This World

Pushcart Prize nominee Sonya Chung has displayed her stunning talent in her award-winning short fiction and essays. Now, she renders the compelling story of a troubled family straddling cultures, fleeing and searching, in her piercing and profoundly humane first novel.

In 1953, on a small island in Korea, a young boy stows away on the ferry that is carrying his older brother and his wife to the mainland. Fifty-two years later, Han Hyun-kyu is on a plane flying back to Korea, leaving behind his own wife in America. It is his daughter, Jane a war photographer recently injured in a bombing in Baghdad and forced to return to New York who journeys to find him in the small town in South Korea where his brothers have settled. Here, father and daughter take refuge from their demons, flirt with passion, and, in the wake of tragedy, discover something deeper and more enduring than they could have imagined.

Just as Monica Ali's Brick Lane introduced readers to a world that is both exotic and immediate, Long for This World illuminates the complexities and the richness of family bonds and establishes Chung as an exciting new voice in fiction.
  • Scribner | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416599678 | 
  • February 2013


Author Sonya Chung Reveals The Inspiration For Her New Novel Long For This World

A brilliant, powerful debut novel about a Korean family divided between America and a small Korean town.

Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Long for This World by Sonya Chung includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


After 52 years away from his homeland, Han Hyun-kyu is returning to Korea. As a boy, he was a stowaway on a ship, sailing to the mainland in search of an education and, eventually, a medical practice in America. Now, with his children grown and his wife increasingly indifferent, Han Hyun-kyu travels to visit his younger brother in South Korea. But his concerned hosts, Han Jae-kyu and his wife Han Jung-joo, aren’t sure when – or if – their houseguest will ever return home.

Han Hyun-kyu’s daughter, Jane, is also in a state of uncertainty. She has just returned from a grueling photojournalism assignment in Baghdad and recovering from a near-fatal bomb blast. Her brother Henry, recently out of rehab, takes Jane in, until they hear of their father’s abrupt trip to Korea. Jane decides to join her father, curious about the urges that propelled him back to the country of his birth. In this serene South Korean village, Jane slowly gets to know the rest of the Han family: her straight-laced uncle, her imp see more

About the Author

Sonya Chung

Sonya Chung’s short fiction and essays have appeared in The Threepenny Review, BOMB Magazine, Cream City Review, and Sonora Review, among others.  She is a recipient of the Charles Johnson Fiction Award, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and the Bronx Council on the Arts Literary Fellowship & Residency.  Long For This World is her first novel.