The Sisters K

Maureen Sun

“You’re my sister, but I’m not sure I love you. I’m not sure I love anyone. But if someone hurt you I’d want to kill him. I’d want him to die in pain. And he has hurt you…”

After years of estrangement, Minah, Sarah, and Esther have been forced together again. Called to their father’s deathbed, the sisters must confront a man little changed by the fact of his mortality. Vicious and pathetic in equal measure, Eugene Kim wants one thing: to see which of his children will abject themselves for his favor— and more importantly, his fortune. From their childhood in California to the depths of a mid-Atlantic winter, the solitary sisters Kim must face a brutal past colliding with their present. Grasping at their broken bonds of sisterhood, they will do what is necessary to escape the tragedy of their circumstances—whatever the cost. 

For Minah, the eldest, the money would be recompense for their father’s cruelty. A practicing lawyer with an icy pragmatism, she dreams of a family of her own and sets to work on securing her inheritance. For Sarah, a gifted and embittered academic who wields her intelligence like a weapon, confronting her father again forces her to reckon with the desperation of her present life. It is left to the youngest— directionless and loving Esther— to care for their father in her lonely quest to do right by everyone. A fortune pales in comparison to the prospect of finally reuniting with her sisters. 

With a legacy of violence haunting their lives, the sisters dare to imagine a better future even as their father’s poison courses through their blood. A contemporary reimagining of Dostoevsky’s dark classic, The Brothers Karamazov, Maureen Sun’s brilliant debut is a vivid and visceral exploration of rage, shame, and the betrayals of intimacy.


Praise for The Sisters K

"Razor-sharp, this passionate book dissects the unfolding tragedy of a family strung between two worlds, and the warring currents of love and revenge that bind them together. A tour-de-force debut."
Cynthia Zarin, author of Inverno: A Novel and Next Day: New and Selected Poems

"In a story rippling with emotional insight, Sun renovates the grand tradition of the psychological novel with her fearless rigor. Vengeance, righteousness, lies, and even the challenge of selfless charity—no impulse goes unexamined, and no crisp judgment survives, in the white hot tongs of this masterful debut novel."
Benjamin Lytal, author of A Map of Tulsa

"With unflinching prose and psychological acuity, Maureen Sun articulates the strangled, dysfunctional intimacy of three Korean-American sisters raised by an abusive patriarch. I was fascinated by their contradictions, resentments, and burgeoning tenderness toward each other. Her characters snake their way through you and linger. Despite its dark themes, the novel ultimately delivers what all three sisters long for: grace. A feverish, stunning debut."
Chin-Sun Lee, author of Upcountry

"Clear-sighted and unafraid, The Sisters K is astoundingly perceptive in its insights about human nature. It is also beautifully written, its emotional intelligence apparent in every passage. This is, simply put, an excellent novel."
Ling Ma, author of Severance and Bliss Montage