Thursday, November 28, 2013

Himalayan Tahr Goat

by Hedy Carra
Himalayan Tahr Goat
We had to look into the rising sun to see you
crossing the dry creek bed 
and then our empty field
at the end of autumn when there is little to browse
and we have plowed up any grass that remained. 
You crossed the empty expanse 
without looking right or left,
presenting us your profile—
haughty or stoic or perhaps distraught—
and went straight up the next hillside you came to. 

How did you get
from your majestic mountains
to our scrubby hills where
we are used to our everyday does and bucks,
our quail, fox, raccoons and squirrels?

Now every day we ponder why such a visitor
walked through our life one misty morning.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Life Imitates Art: The Unfortunate Incident of Merrill Newman in North Korea, and the Parallel with the novel, The Reunification of Joseph K.

On October 26, 2013, Merrill Newman, an 85 year-old American, was buckled in his seat on a plane preparing to depart Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport when a flight attendant pointed him out to two men in uniform. They promptly escorted him off the plane, according to his family and a traveling companion. Newman was traveling with a group out of Beijing on a tour bus through North Korea. Newman's wife and family haven't heard anything from him or his captors since, nor are the getting any information from American authorities.

America doesn't have diplomatic relations with the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, so it has no embassy or consulate in Pyongyang -- no feet on the ground -- and has to work through the Swedish Embassy to get any information on why the North Koreans are holding Mr. Newman, although there is speculation that it has something to do with his being a veteran of the Korean War.

There is little to go on but speculation concerning why the North Koreans took an 85 year-old American hostage. North Korea and its government are way beyond rationale understanding, at least from a Westerner's viewpoint. The cult of Kim is difficult for even those educated in the language, history, and culture of the North to fully grasp.

This is part of the problem for the protagonist of my novel, The Reunification of Joseph K. I chose to model the story of Joseph Kimmelmann on the novels of Franz Kafka, because, like the characters in The Trial, and The Castle, once my protagonist is in the clutches of the North Koreans, he is helpless to determine why he's being held, let alone how to escape.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Newman is more fortunate than Mr. Kimmelmann.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Just Published: The Reunification of Joseph K

Joseph Kimmelmann, a graduate of the Jackson School of International Relations, Korean Studies Program, is greeted at the Pyongyang Airport by two North Korean ‘minders,’ who accompany him virtually everywhere he goes during his visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the so-called, ‘Hermit Kingdom.’

Joseph represents Castle, a venture capital firm that wrings profits out of distressed properties, and Pyongyang’s Ryugyong Hotel, under construction for twenty-six years, is as distressed as they come. But Castle Ventures has no intention of helping the DPRK finance the hotel. Instead, Joseph is in Pyongyang to spy on potential competitors. But Joseph has another mission in North Korea, a ‘small favor’ he agreed to do for the CIA.

It only takes Joseph a few days to learn that flaunting the prohibitions placed on foreign visitors by North Korea is an extremely dangerous game. It takes him a little longer to realize just how foolish he’s been in coming to North Korea, let alone in associating himself with the ‘American imperialistic’ CIA.

“The Reunification of Joseph K” is the story of a flawed young man’s introduction to a culture he thought he knew. A culture he studied in great detail, becoming fluent in its language and, he thought, in its customs. But despite his advanced degree, Joseph’s appreciation for the ‘cult of Kim,’ is sadly deficient and he is ill-prepared for the elaborate scheme the People’s Republic has hatched to thumb its nose at America, a scheme in which he, Joseph Kimmelmann, is the pawn.

In many respects, The Reunification of Joseph K is reminiscent of Franz Kafka’s “The Trial.” Like his namesake, Josef K, Joseph Kimmelmann is conspired against and prosecuted by inaccessible authorities, but unlike Kafka’s unfortunate protagonist, Joseph Kimmelmann knows why he’s being punished, and he’s willing to try anything to escape his fate.

Available in the Kindle Store on November 5, 2013