I was jogging on the beach one autumn morning, the tide low and gray, when I saw an Asian woman standing barefoot in the sand, eyes set on the cloudy horizon. In her thirties, slender and youthful, she had dark hair in a thick braid and wore a light-brown dress that came down below her knees. I jogged by. I don’t think she noticed me. Her dreamy eyes seemed far, far away. I looked back one last time and took in her stoic gaze.

I wonder what she’s all about, I thought, and then I wrote a short story, CHAN KIM, about a Cambodian woman with special powers of persuasion. The short story hung around for five years, and then the memory of the woman returned, like she had more to say. Who was I to argue? Thus, the novel CHAN KIM came to be.

Why did a middle-aged Jewish man try to channel the spirit of a young Cambodian woman of Buddhist culture? I don’t know, but Chan Kim made the writing easy for me and helped me come to terms with several of my own issues. I suppose that, with time passing, I better understand the singularity of the human condition, yet also how similar the essence of our communal experience is.       

Born in NYC and raised in Israel, I now live in the Sierra foothills of northern California and work as a music teacher. I have no doubt that writing both songs and stories has prevented me several times from walking the Golden Gate Bridge in the wee hours, and I’m grateful for that…I think. 

Do me a favor: read five pages from CHAN KIM, and if you like the story, read another five pages and see how you feel. No pressure.

I’m also at www.ilan-herman.com

Ilan Herman
Author of CHAN KIM