Gone by Min Kym


Min Kym

Gone is a window on the world of musical genius who discovers the music of her own voice. 

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The spellbinding memoir of a violin virtuoso who loses the instrument that had defined her both on stage and off -- and who discovers, beyond the violin, the music of her own voice
Her first violin was tiny, harsh, factory-made; her first piece was “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.” But from the very beginning, Min Kym knew that music was the element in which she could swim and dive and soar. At seven years old, she was a prodigy, the youngest ever student at the famed Purcell School. At eleven, she won her first international prize; at eighteen, violinist great Ruggiero Ricci called her “the most talented violinist I’ve ever taught.” And at twenty-one, she found “the one,” the violin she would play as a soloist: a rare 1696 Stradivarius. Her career took off. She recorded the Brahms concerto and a world tour was planned.

Then, in a London café, her violin was stolen. She felt as though she had lost her soulmate, and with it her sense of who she was. Overnight she became unable to play or function, stunned into silence.

In this lucid and transfixing memoir, Kym reckons with the space left by her violin’s absence. She sees with new eyes her past as a child prodigy, with its isolation and crushing expectations; her combustible relationships with teachers and with a domineering boyfriend; and her navigation of two very different worlds, her traditional Korean family and her music. And in the stark yet clarifying light of her loss, she rediscovers her voice and herself.

Advance Galley Reviews

Min Kym writes a very open and heartfelt look into her life as a Korean growing up in England, a child prodigy, and what it truly means to connect with music and your instrument, You might not be familiar with her name, but if you were anywhere near a computer or had access to the news, you surely heard about the Stradivarius stolen from a sandwich shop in London back in 2010. It was hers. What I like about the book is that, while it hinges primarily on the loss of the violin, you get a intimate view of what it means to be a musical prodigy and all the hard work and sacrifice that goes into dedicating your life to music. There were moments when I wanted to slap her upside the head for not standing up for herself, and there is now a man that I will probably slap on sight (who takes advantage like that of someone they claim to love?!?!), but you really do get a full picture of the person and her connection to the music and the instrument.

This is a compelling, often sad, but ultimately hopeful memoir. Kym candidly discusses both the triumphs and trials of being a violin prodigy without coming across as conceited or complaining. Her writing style is quite detailed, full of interesting nuggets about various musicians, violin-making, pieces of music, etc. She weaves this through the main narrative, which eventually becomes the story of how her beloved instrument is stolen. I think classical musicians, particularly violinists like myself, will find this book fascinating. Anyone who wants an intimate picture of the interior life of an artist should enjoy it as well. I received advanced access to this book from the First to Read program, in exchange for an honest review.

A lyrical, beautiful telling of a child prodigy's journey through her life and how her instrument was her bond and when stolen, she also loses herself. She swims through despondency and an abusive relationship to find herself and maybe the instrument and life she wants.


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