Min left Korea for London aged 3. Soon, she had lessons in the violin, and by seven she was a prodigy. She won her first international competition aged 11.
“I felt comfortable performing the violin; it was my voice.”
Finding a Stradivarius aged 21, Min’s career soared.
Min has always loved writing; she started with poetry, writing in secret. And when her violin was stolen, leading to months of terrible insomnia, Min wrote down all her feelings, diary style.
“It was like a conversation to myself. I realised the rhythm of writing was like music.”
She was on the verge of giving up the violin to train as a doctor, but a friend and music manager, hearing a recording of her playing, dissuaded her.
Min decided to write a book because the press had got her story wrong.
“I wanted to set the record straight. It took two years. It was like the most intense therapy. I was reliving the past, but with an adult mind.”
Min now has a new violin.
“I love it. It’s different from my Stradivarius; it hasn’t the same resonance, but it has a sweeter tone. I feel most myself when I play.”
Who is Min Kym?
Date of birth: 1978 in Korea.
Education: Purcell School. Royal College of Music. (Foundation scholarship at 15.)
Family: “My parents who live in London and my sister who lives in Paris.”
The Day Job: Professional violinist.
In Another Life: “I would really like to have been a doctor; I’d like to have made a difference.”
Favourite Writers: Elif Shafak; Elizabeth Strout; Shakespeare; Sylvia Plath; Thomas Hardy.
Second Novel: “I’d like to write another one. I have these ideas bubbling away.”
Top Tip: Write with passion and truth.
The Debut: Gone. A Girl. A Violin. A Life Unstrung. Viking: € 21.00. Kindle: € 11.99.
Recounting Min’s life as a child prodigy, this enchanting memoir focuses on the theft of her beloved Stradivarius, stolen from a railway station. Without her violin, she wonders who she is, and how she can now survive. It’s a story of love and loss, and is a fascinating glance into the mind of a musician.
The Verdict: A wonderful and enlightening memoir. It’s as gripping as a novel.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 9th September.
© Sue Leonard. 2017