“A book of betrayals and borders, real and imagined, and of deceptions and desires, which beautifully and dramatically evokes the spectres of Korea’s past and the divisions of its present in ways reminiscent of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American or Ian McEwan’s The Innocent.”

– David Peace

 

 
Hannah Michell

Hannah Michell

About the Author

Hannah Michell was born in Yorkshire in 1983 and grew up in Seoul, South Korea. She studied Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, then received an MA in Creative Writing from City University. She is a lecturer on Korean pop culture at the University of California, Berkeley. The Defections is her first novel.


 

The Defections:  A Synopsis & Excerpt

 

Synopsis

 

Mia is an outsider. The child of an English mother, she defies the rigid expectations of her Korean stepmother to work as a translator at the British Embassy. 

Her uncle runs a charitable - and controversial - school for North Korean defectors, and prevails upon Mia's stepmother to shelter a traumatized young student. Mia is too preoccupied to note the defector's strange behavior - or its implications. 

She has become infatuated with Thomas, a diplomat with a self-destructive streak. When an outrageous indiscretion endangers his position, it is Mia who saves him from humiliation and rescues his career. And the boundaries between them are crossed. 

As a reward for his reformation, Thomas is commissioned to audit security amongst Embassy staff. Learning of Mia's connections to the defector, he is compelled to dig deeper into the life of the woman who has captivated him. 

Suddenly, all that Mia has done to get close to Thomas begins to cause her undoing.