Review of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee

Emma Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


“To satisfy Divine Justice, perfect victims were necessary, but the Law of Love has succeeded to the law of fear, and Love has chosen me as a holocaust, me, a weak and imperfect creature” wrote Korean-American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha in her 1982 debut novel Dictee. Only two months after its publication, Cha was raped and murdered on her way to meet her husband and friends for dinner in New York City. She was 31 years old. Cha’s novel is haunting, tragic, and defiant. Written in multiple languages and in a style both enigmatic and experimental, its accessibility is comparable to James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Dictee is widely recognized today as a critically important text of postmodern, postcolonial, Asian-American literature and has enthralled scholars of Asian American literature since its publication. Forty years later, University of California Press has produced a restored version of Dictee. With the original cover and high-quality interior layout as Cha had designed them, this book is the most aesthetically appealing edition of the five that have been produced.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAsian Review of Books
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Asian American Literature
  • Korean Diasporic Literature


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