War With Pigeons, by Tae Kim, is suspenseful, thrilling, and in my opinion – a piece of literary talent at its finest. Tae Kim introduces the reader to the Asian-American community so many of us (until now) have not been aware of. I think the author did an excellent job in describing the room salons in Midtown Manhattan, cafés, and clubs that the young Asian men frequented. Written in first and third – person narrative, the author manages to captivate his audience with both techniques of storytelling – not easily achieved by most writers. Through his characters, the author expresses every human emotion – love, desire, bereavement, and jealousy with realism and undying truth. The words leap from the pages and touch your heart as the author speaks of a world and culture that is quite different than our own, but ultimately develops to reveal a common thread.
The setting for the story begins with a funeral on a stormy Easter Sunday as many people gather to pay homage to Simon – the main character. It is here that you are introduced to several different characters – all meticulously described in detail. It is when his friend, Peter, is appointed administrator to the will that the reader learns of Simon’s tragic love affair, and the events that lead up to his death. Peter uncovers a journal of his friend Simon, which reveals his friend in a very different light, and eventually dredges up disturbing memories of loss and love in his own heart.
One of the most memorable characters in the book for me was Simon’s mother. The poignant moment arrives when she makes the decision to leave her husband and young child in Korea, so that she could immigrate to the U.S. in hopes to make a better life for them. Naïve, she expected to reunite with them after a short period of time, but weeks turned into a year – valuable time lost that could never be replaced.
We often trust that if we stand up for what we believe in and do the right thing – the result will be a positive one. Not always. However, those who do stand up for what they believe in earn the respect of others as well as staying true to their values. The author conveys this vital message many times throughout the story. I trust we will be seeing more literary works from this gifted writer. I give War With Pigeons two thumbs up and five stars – highly recommended!
Tae Kim was born in Inchon, Korea and immigrated to the U.S. in 1971. He now lives in Englewood, New Jersey with his wife and three children.
Review by Barbara Watkins, Bookpleasures