Maryland Humanities recently announced the selection of “The Island of Sea Women,” a novel by Lisa See, for the 2020 One Maryland One Book program.
“For the past 12 years, One Maryland One Book has generated frank conversations about urgent issues explored through literature — including refugees and migrants, conflicts with police, and most recently the Flint water crisis,” said Aaron Heinsman, Acting Executive Director at Maryland Humanities, in a news release. “I’m excited to see what new perspectives Lisa See’s novel surfaces for readers.“
The novel follows the decades-long friendship of two haenyeo (female divers) from Jeju Island in Korea. The book was chosen by a committee of librarians, educators, authors and bibliophiles in February from more than 165 titles suggested last fall by readers across the state for the theme, “Friendship.” In 2019, “The Island of Sea Women” made the New York Times’ list of best sellers.
“I’m thrilled and honored that The Island of Sea Women has been chosen as the 2020 One Maryland One Book selection,” See said in the release. “This has been a trying year and some of us have sustained terrible losses. I’m proud of the way we’ve had to come together in our families, communities, and states. Books have always given me joy, solace, and courage. Now we have the opportunity to come together to have a shared reading experience. I hope the sea women that I wrote about — their physical and emotional bravery — are as inspiring to all of you as they have been to me. I’m so looking forward to our events and meeting all of you. We’re going to have fun!”
Johanna Eubank, Tuscon.com writes:
The New York Times bestselling author Lisa See is being recognized with the Tucson Festival of Books Founders Award.
Author of “The Island of Sea Women,” “Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” and other books, See will be presented with the award at the authors table dinner at the University of Arizona before the festival.
The Founders Award was established in 2011 and honors literary achievement that has captivated our imagination and whose body of work will be an inspiration to readers, writers and book lovers.
See has previously been honored as the Organization of Chinese American Women’s National Woman of the Year, has received the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award and was an Edgar Award nominee.
See’s events at the festival include “Meet Lisa See,” at 11:30 a.m. March 14, in Modern Languages Room 350; and “Unwavering Human Spirit,” at 4 p.m. March 14, in the Student Union North Ballroom. Both are ticketed events.
See’s latest book, “The Island of Sea Women” is a multi-generation-spanning story of two women whose individual choices become inextricably tangled.
Past Founders Award recipients are Elmore Leonard, 2011; Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, 2012; R.L. Stine, 2013; Richard Russo, 2014; The Rock Bottom Remainders: Mitch Albom, Dave Barry, Sam Barry, Greg Isles, Ridley Pearson, Amy Tan and Scott Turow, 2015; J.A. Jance, 2016; T.C. Boyle, 2017; Billy Collins, 2018; and Luis Alberto Urrea, 2019.
Get Literary includes The Island of Sea Women in their “12 Great Reads that Celebrate the Bonds between Women, writing:
There’s nothing like the story of a great friendship that spans decades. Mi-ja and Young-sook are part of a squad of all-female divers in Korea’s Jeju Island. While the two are very different people, it is their bond that helps them survive their dangerous diving job, as well as the ever-changing regimes and wars that affect their lives. A wondrous look at a world of work that few people know, and a fascinating study of friendship in the face of conflict, The Island of Sea Women is sure to engage readers…and make you want to check in on your bestie.
Oprah Magazine names The Island of Sea Women one of 4 of the “Buzziest” new reads of the year:
Off the coast of South Korea lies Jeju, known as Island of the Gods, where women once were the breadwinners—er, sorry: fishwinners. Meet the haenyeo, the guild of female divers who spend their days underwater searching for food to harvest and sell. They might sound like the stuff of myth, but since the 17th century, real-life haenyeo have held their breath and plumbed the seas, fighting off octopuses, sharks, and abalones. Meanwhile, their husbands stayed home and tended to chores and children.
In this bittersweet novel that spans more than 50 years, Lisa See tells the story of Mi-ja and Young-sook, two best friends who live in a kind of feminist utopia on a Korean island. In the small community of Jeju, women risk their lives to dive and train their daughters to do the same, while men remain at home to nurture young children. Mi-ja and Young-sook have what they think is an unbreakable friendship, one cemented by a thousand dangerous dives, but their families cannot allow them to remain on equal footing.
Bookbub’s Must Reads for 2019
Set on the small Korean island of Jeju, The Island of Sea Women has been called a “stupendous multigenerational family saga” by Booklist. Readers who loved New York Times bestselling author Lisa See’s The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane will want to read this beautiful novel about family secrets and the bond of friendship between two female divers.
Oprah Magazine’s 25 most anticipated books for 2019
The fierce free-diving women on the Korean island of Jeju are the subject of Lisa See’s mesmerizing new historical novel that celebrates women’s strengths—and the strength of their friendships.
The AP interviewed Lisa about the start of her career and the publication of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, her 12th book.