Read Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah Sora Kim-Russell Online


A nameless narrator passes through her life, searching for meaning and connection in experiences she barely feels. For her, time and identity blur, and all action is reaction. She can’t quite understand what motivates others to take life seriously enough to focus on anything—for her existence is a loosely woven tapestry of fleeting concepts. From losing her virginity to miA nameless narrator passes through her life, searching for meaning and connection in experiences she barely feels. For her, time and identity blur, and all action is reaction. She can’t quite understand what motivates others to take life seriously enough to focus on anything—for her existence is a loosely woven tapestry of fleeting concepts. From losing her virginity to mindless jobs and a splintered, unsupportive family, the lessons learned have less to do with the reality we all share and more to do with the truth of the imagination, which is where the narrator focuses to discover herself....

Title : Nowhere to Be Found
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781477827550
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 108 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Nowhere to Be Found Reviews

  • Antonomasia
    2018-11-14 03:52

    [4.5] A curious experience, finding out what's actually inside a book you've been hearing about for a while, especially when it's not quite what you expected. I was always going to buy this (£1.98 for a tiny novella - only 799 Kindle locations, in case you think in those terms - bargain price because it's published by AmazonCrossing) if it was longlisted for the BTBA, but the synopsis and washed-out cover didn't appeal enough for me to buy it with no particular focus for discussion.After three months stuffed with novels about writers, it's even better than usual to read one about normal life - the twentysomething narrator living the grind of working two or three jobs at a time, staying with her working-class mother, going out with a boyfriend she's not all that keen on. It's implied that in Korea 1988 she should have been making more of herself, but although Nowhere to Be Found is - thankfully - very different, in its matter-of-fact fatalistic, existential style, from the slew of Anglo-American novels about indebted millenials in makework roles, the circumstances are rather similar. Unlike those characters, Bae Suah's narrator crucially gives the impression she never expected to live any differently; she may have got a degree, but her life has fallen into the same patterns as her working class family. (Her main job might be clerical, but compared with all the novels about artists or high-flying lawyers, this is more or less a working-class book. An idea which might not have come to mind if it weren't for this article I saw a couple of weeks ago.) Whilst the specific details of my life were different from hers, there's something in the tone of many of the chapters that perfectly evokes what I concluded at that age (perhaps crucially, pre social media) was "normal life" for most people and something I had to get used to, all the unexciting bits of existence that stretched between the interesting conversations, but sometimes almost all the time, especially when I was living in places I didn't especially like. Very few books capture this experience and make the reader feel it for the duration, because art, be it high, low or middlebrow, is often a means a means of escaping it for the creator or the consumer. Maybe Blur's 'Yuko and Hiro' is a crass comparison geographically, but there is a similar getting-on-with-it flatness, and acceptance of that as reality, that I feel in both, but done better here and never cartoonishly, because it's understood from the inside.It's not 100% nose to the grindstone: moments of gothic, masochistic intensity intrude, mostly as internal experience rather than life-drama. I'm not sure whether it's my vocab or the imagery I associate with words that's are limited here, as I'm wondering if "gothic" and "masochistic" mostly mean European and North American imagery to other people as well, or if it would be obvious without elaboration so that I'm trying to get at that sharp, strange kind of darkness found in Korean films. An arbitrary personal dislike of a couple of such moments in one of the final chapters made me want to round this down to four rather than up to five stars - and would be irrelevant if Goodreads had the half-stars I'm particularly missing lately - but already my appreciation for the rest of the book overshadows that bit. This was a stunning little book, more powerful than I anticipated - now I understand why all the fuss about Bae Suah. Perhaps a part of the sense of freshness and newness I felt is because I'm not very familiar with Korean culture, but Nowhere to Be Found is superb in distilling the mundane and acceptance of the mundane, and in making intense breaks from it that are not the typical ones.

  • David Yoon
    2018-11-18 05:47

    I find many of the Korean works in translation challenging books and this slim volume is no exception. Essentially the story is anchored around our female protagonist trying to visit her sort-of-boyfriend off on military service. But surrounding it are explorations of ennui, familial obligations, cultural expectation and struggling in an indifferent world. It feels deep, piercing and sharp but ultimately there are no narrative stakes here. It’s like a Bergman movie in print. I just don’t feel like I’m smart enough to really get it, but naturally feels like something deep thinking academics would choose to translate.

  • Zak
    2018-11-13 08:36

    Despite the bleak setting, somehow the words didn’t resonate with me and I couldn’t really connect with the main character. More like a 2.5 if I’m being completely honest.

  • Barry Welsh
    2018-12-01 11:43

    Excellent Short Korean novelI would recommend this novel to anyone interested in Korean literature. Bae Suah writers very well about alienation poverty and loneliness. Highly recommended

  • Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
    2018-12-13 11:24

    I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of Nowhere To Be Found from its publisher, Amazon Crossing, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Nowhere To Be Found is a Korean novella that depicts a few events during one year of a young woman's life. As the book is small, so these events are small, yet through reading the heroine's descriptions I gained an uncomfortably graphic account of her poverty and her family's struggle to survive. Early on, Suah writes of her protagonist's temporary office job as being a minor cog in a machine, the cog eventually being worn down and becoming so embedded in its role that it cannot aim for any other. This theme is expanded by our never learning the young woman's name. We discover very intimate details of her life but, at the same time, she could be anybody.I particularly liked the day when the woman takes chicken to her soldier boyfriend as this episode summed up a lot of the book for me. She treks many miles unsuitably dressed for the cold, is messed around by officials leading to more hours journeying, her boyfriend completely fails to acknowledge the efforts she has made, and yet her ultimate reaction is incredibly conservative considering the provocation. I found this almost-acceptance of her life very sad to read. The somewhat stark use of language reinforces the whole feel of the book for me - it is what it is.I think I did miss out on some of the subtleties of Nowhere To Be Found by my not having a great knowledge of Korean culture and daily life. The speeches about anti-weapons demonstrations seemed awkward to me. However, the impersonal message that we cannot escape our predestination is an interesting one to ponder. The woman occasionally catches glimpses of herself passing by in a better life, but believes that reality cannot be hers. Her brother wants to try working in Japan but the travel costs seem insurmountable. Her mother is already resigned.I enjoyed the opportunity to read this novella, actually reading it twice over two days. I think it could be taken very differently depending on the mood of the reader: a positive outlook seeing it as incentive to strive, a negative outlook seeing more of a reason why not to bother. Perhaps Nowhere To Be Found would make an interesting Book Club choice?

  • Richard Cho
    2018-12-07 05:26

    To become an absolutely meaningless thing in order to survive time. This maxim most accurately reflects our nameless narrator’s mindset as we follow the events surrounding her during one winter in Korea. But what does it mean to survive time, that entity which is so relentless in its continuity and utterly indifferent to human concerns? Nowhere to be Found is the Korean writer Bae Suah’s first novel to be translated into English. It is a concise portrayal of an intense psychological meditation about a young woman’s disinterest and aversion toward the world she is thrown in. She is floating in the abyss of evanescence and existential doubts. Whatever it is that she may be looking for, it is nowhere to be found; even her boyfriend (or is he her boyfriend?) whom she visits at the army base resists being found. In addition, to her, all action is mere “reaction.” The narration begins when she is a part-time office helper by day and waitress by night in the year of 1988, although she points out that “it (the year 1988) wasn’t so different from 1979, and it wasn’t any more or less memorable in comparison to 1998.” Her disposition borders nihilism, “Most of the people I knew long ago now live their lives without me, and those whom I will meet by chance one day do not know me now.” She is only 24, but constant lethargy plagues her, not because of the amount of work but due to the burden of mere existence. We are introduced to her family members. She has an older brother (10 years older) and a younger sister (10 years younger), and an alcoholic mother. They are so poor that she has to share one winter coat with her sister. “I sat on the intercity bus with no coat, as frozen as a scarecrow in an unsown rice paddy in the middle of winter…" Her brother plans on becoming a sewer cleaner in Japan because he can’t find a job in Korea, and her sister bawls because her family cannot afford her field trip. Our narrator’s daily routine seems utterly bereft of meaning that she constantly needs her imagination to intervene in reality.Then we meet Cheol-su, our narrator’s “boyfriend” whom she has been seeing casually for a number of years, although she has never slept with him until now. Her first sexual experience with Cheol-su seems suspiciously apathetic, as if she equates the experience with her first menstruation, something that would happen sooner or later, thus not deserving much concern. One snowy winter day, she goes to the army base to visit him, with chicken in tow prepared by Cheol-su’s mother. On her way, she is misdirected a couple of times and she seems lost in a labyrinth where there might be two Cheol-sus. When she finally sees him, an epiphany hits her and she can’t help but shed her tears, “Up until that moment I’d never really understood sadness. The fierce, mob-like sadness that would come over me, clear and strong.” She has been trying to desensitize herself from the worldly matters; what has triggered her intense grief this time?Our narrator is recalling the events from 1998, ten later, and this time, she is with her another lover during the rainy day in the dilapidated shack. The repeated motif we encounter is “me inside me,” and our narrator witnesses her other “me” walking by the window just outside of the shack. Is she referring to the ideal “me” in her imagination in the backdrop of her real “me”? She also comments, “Oddly enough, time repeated itself.” Maybe, she has figured the only defense against time is to distance herself from the effects rendered by time. To become taxidermy of a sort. Is her undoing the result of her failure to defend herself from the implacable nature of time? “What my brother had promised when he squeezed my sweaty hand as if he’d never let go was not money or letters. It was the erasure of time that goes by the name of money and letters. I understand that. The sort of time in which people could become the purest they’d ever been; cancel any unimportant plans they had; and long for a random, distant ideal."The book’s original title is Cheol-su, the name familiar to anyone who attended elementary school in Korea. The name belongs to a young boy in the Ethics textbook used by all students. He is a model-child of moral righteousness, so immaculate in his behaviors approved by Korean social norms. Then, how should we interpret our narrator’s dealing with her Cheol-su? Is she resisting against the social norms approved by the country? Also, the year 1988 has a prominent meaning for Koreans, for it is the year Korea hosted its first Olympics. Along with the country’s burgeoning democracy, it is the year Korea has stepped into the world of cosmopolitanism. What have we given up for the wholehearted embrace of modernization and worldly sophistication? Although just 103 pages long, Nowhere to be Found is uncanny yet affective novel about young generation’s anxiety in Korea dealing with ideals dictated and forced upon by its history.

  • Paul Fulcher
    2018-12-06 09:27

    "If you gently stroke my lips and the palm of my hand right now, you will find them strangely cold and icy, a feeling of endless distance that even I can sense. Someone once said to me, 'You're so cold that I shake with despair. The whole time we're together your lips never once flush, and your body is like slippery ice. You have the eyes of a wolf-girl whose heart has never once been moved. When I press my ear to your chest, I hear only wind and emptiness.' ...Burn me. Pour gasoline over me and set my body on fire. Burn me at the stake like a witch. Wrap me in garbage bags and toss me in the incinerator. I'll turn into dioxin and make my way into your lungs." 철수 by 배수아 (Bae Suah) has been translated into English by the excellent Sora Kim-Russell, who did such a good job with 신경숙's novel 어디선가 나를 찾는 전화벨이 울리고 (I'll be Right There, and does an even better job here - indeed I suspect this will be a serious contender for this year's translation awards. In both cases, the English title is completely different to the Korean (although this may well be the publishers' decision) a pet peeve of mine, although perhaps more justified here as 철수 ("Cheolsu") is the name of one of the main characters, but a relatively common name in Korea whereas it sounds exotic in English (indeed this ordinariness is important to the plot at one point).배수아 herself has translated WG Sebald (from the original German) and Fernando Pessoa's Book of Disquiet into Korean - rather impressive literary antecedents. This dialogue between languages is what makes translated literature such a joy.Turning to the novella itself, "Nowhere to be Found" packs more power into its 100 slim pages than most 300 page plus novels. 배수아 has said: "‘The most suitable way to not say something’—that’s what I think of as the aesthetic of my short fiction."The unnamed first person narrator is a 24 year-old from an unpriviliged background, temping in an admin role ("It was the kind of clerical work that anyone could have done without any special qualifications or expertise") in 1988 - the year of the Seoul Olympics and a time of political turmoil in South Korea but this hardly features directly. The novella starts as a seemingly conventional tale of economic hardship, young love and family life ("our family looked perfect from the outside: a mother, a father, a brother ten years younger than me, and a sister ten years younger") but rapidly takes a rather darker turn, more in terms of the psychology of the narrator than the plot.The narrator simply struggles to belong, describing even her family as "a random collection of people I knew long ago and will never happen upon again, and people I don't know yet but will meet by chance one day."She wonders about her 14 year old sister "would she too inherit the cynicism and apathy toward the world that enabled our family line to endure poverty and maladjustment, just as my brother and I had?" and her relationship with her "boyfriend" - or the nearest she has - Cheolsu ("if boys could be divided into different categories, then Cheolsu was a mineral...he knew how to accept the tedium without the ennui") is also characterised by similar apathy "he didn't make me feel anything, and I didn't make him feel anything".But the narrator knows that her true character is different, even if her true self is Nowhere to be Found."In truth, I was not me. The me that was born into an animal body and lived as a slave to poverty and insult was nothing but the emptiness that had been momentarily bewitched out of me by an evil spirit. That distant me is precious and beautiful."The prose in the novel twists in on itself - indeed it's a novel that rewards an immediate re-read both for the quality of the prose and to spot how references from the early pages are repeated with more significance later. And the novel ends on a disturbing, masochistic, note.For an excellent review of the novel and 배수아's literature in general I would recommend

  • Jaymee
    2018-12-04 05:40

    Haven't read anything quite like this. Short, really depressing stream-of-consciousness story that glides smoothly, and settles uncomfortably in you. Decently done, and would read more from this writer.

  • Florina
    2018-11-20 03:26

    Very ugly and very beautiful, in equal parts. I love books that embrace failure to find meaning.

  • Ronald Morton
    2018-11-24 10:27

    I liked this a bit more than Recitation, but maybe that's because this is shorter? I know that sounds dismissive, but I didn't really enjoy either book, while I still enjoyed her writing. I can see why people like her stuff, but it didn't connect for me in any meaningful way. Probably will give her a pass in the future.

  • Felicity Gibson
    2018-12-01 04:25

    No Where to be Found By Bae SuahRead 4th February 2015 Posted on Good Reads "The rain falls, lays siege to the entire world, as if it has been falling that way for years. The rain will fall even after the death of time. Roof half falling down. Windows broken. Kitchen dripping rainwater. Porch covered in filth. Creaky stairs covered in cats' paw prints. Dead rag doll, straw insides poking out. And, above all the gruesome things, our frigid relationship." We enter the book without pomp. It is a series of cameos of stark reality. Most of the action takes place on one day. The writing feels real. The reader goes through the experience with the main character. Everything is stripped down to bare necessity. It is almost silent – a black and white film moving through 60 pages. This book deserves 5 stars.

  • Robert Wechsler
    2018-11-25 06:53

    A sometimes very intense, very first-person novella that intentionally does not hold together much and does not move like a novel. Just when you think the author is being more conventional, she pulls the rug out from under you. She seems to want you to be as uncomfortable with the novella as the narrator is with herself and with others. Or is she (the narrator, that is)? Nothing is certain here.The novella didn’t really work for me, but it was certainly a unique reading experience, and just the right length. A 3.5.

  • Meghan
    2018-11-28 08:42

    I've figured out the Netgalley system: Get books that have been translated into English. Even better if they are by POC. Even even better if WOC. For example, Nowhere to Be Found, you don't even have to request it; it's just there ready for download. I spent thirty minutes with it, finished, and then thought about what to write for two days.Nowhere to Be Found is a series of scenes. Each scene is like a perfect little wrapped truffle, but it's like the box of these truffles has been shaken up and that little sheet of paper that tells you what each truffle is has been lost. So we have smooth bits and then inelegant jumps. There's a bizarre shift partway through to a second-person, sadomasochistic narration, some of which repeats in first person at the very end (my kobo note when I got to that part: WTF?). There's a whole absurd traipsing through an army training field to find someone who has a name-doppelgänger, then who doesn't. There's some subtlety about class in Korean society that is touched on but likely not explored as the story was initially written for a Korean audience, who don't need their society explained to them the way I might. There's some esoteric references (The Blue Bird, but maybe smarter people than me knew what that was already). There's some cattiness and shaming:"the girl who was called the Black Hole because of her reputation for routinely going through multiple guys in one night."Then the novella ends with:"And that is how I became an absolutely meaningless thing and survived time."I don't really get it.I like all the little components, but I'm not sure I like them once they're put together. It's less than the sum of all parts. That isn't to say I'm not going to steal some ideas from it to see what I can do with them instead. But this novella is a bit off. Not alien abduction off, but just not enough that I can really, unabashedly feel good about the experience.And of course, my burning question with no real relevance to anything about this novella: why is Be capitalized in the title, but not to? The to Be is like a unit. Shouldn't they both be or not both be capitalized?I think Nowhere to Be Found is going to be released as one of those Amazon Singles things or something. It's short - forty pages. So a quick read.Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah goes on sale April 14, 2015.I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Kritika Narula
    2018-12-10 03:53

    Originally Reviewed atSo many books, so little time "And that is how I became an absolutely meaningless thing and survived time"If how this book ends cannot make you cry, I don't know what will. The thing with the story and plot is- and it works out in favor of the book- that despite the cultural differences between the places there and here, the universal human emotions overpower the plot and it is a painful delight to read through the pages. A painful delight is an oxymoron, but the book which I believe is just the right length and just the apt descriptions, what with cliffhangers and a duspense looming large. Then there is a poetic quality to the narrative and that makes it even more beautiful.The plot initially describes how the woman battles poverty and an unsupportive family, while her younger sibling still dares to dream. The poignancy is felt as we can see that eventually the younger sibling too will have to give up her dreams and give in to her fate of abject poverty and penury. Life has no hope and direction and survival in itself is a burden. Enter love into this equation, and you have the perfect recipe for tears. The elder brother goes to a foreign land to earn for his family, and there is no shortage of ironies, for it is known yo everyone that chances of him not returning are major. I especially empathised with our protagonist over her struggles with the lack of means To me this book remains a lesson in humanity.Everytime I read the book, the pain never diminishes. When everyday life and living is a tragedy, how do you face life? people stand at every corner to take advantage. The book has been written very subtly and I had a hard time bearing, as a reader, whatthe nameless narrator was feeling all along. Everythibg fleeting, everything transcient and nothing reliable: when the least a family can do is be together, they are inexplicably torn and stubborn. She breaks up with her boyfriend to whom she lost virginity because thatseemingly was all he needed her as. he treated her like a whore, shit and a dumpyard. His family lived a formulaic life. My heart truly breaks at a point when she remarks, "He will grow up to become his father and mother. And I wil grow up to become my father and mother". Sotrue it hurts.

  • David Rush
    2018-11-24 11:43

    Whoa! This is a crazy book.In one sense I want to find out more about the author and what the heck she is all about...but in another sense I don't. Because what if she has some totatly reasonable explanations for lines like these?“Cheolsu, I will eat your chicken when that day comes. I will gladly become your toilet. When I can, for once in my life, for a brief moment, become ardently pure.” (p. 80).“The prison of time called life. The prison of class and circumstance. The prison of a code untranslatable into the language of the other. The prison of the flesh. ”I mean, who could come up with “the prison of time called life”? I know it is translated but even filtered through translation that has got to be weird.(p. 83)“When the lighter hovers by my crotch, he asks, “Can I burn you a little?” I nod and shut my eyes. Burn me. Pour gasoline over me and set my body on fire. Burn me at the stake like a witch. Wrap me in garbage bags and toss me in the incinerator. I’ll turn into dioxin and make my way into your lungs. Stroke my face lightly with a razor blade and suck the blood that comes seeping out. Lap it up like a cat. I want to be covered in blood. I’ll cry out in the end and weep for fear of leaving this world without ever once discovering the me inside me, the ugly something inside me. The foul scent of burning hair. The heat.” (p. 100)I don't know what the hell that means.I read in other reviews it is a celebration of failure...maybe, and I feel that but it could mean so much more.Again, I don't know what to think. It may be depressing or it may be the most important message for all of us.

  • Aaron (Typographical Era)
    2018-11-22 03:30

    A young woman and her family struggle with public humiliation, shame, and poverty. The story is told from her perspective. Middle child. Mid-twenties. Ten years older than her sister. Ten years younger than her brother. The distance of time between each of their births might as well be measured in light years because they don’t seem to possess the typical bond one would expect to find between siblings. Each acts like a parent figure to the next in line below them with only the youngest daughter, Mia, being able to truly act out like a child. Mom is a hopeless alcoholic. Dad is serving jail time. The house is falling apart. There is no money. No food. No prospects of anything changing for the better anytime soon. Welcome to South Korea circa 1988. Please step right in and make yourself at home.The late 1980s to early 1990s represent a time of rapid change for the country. The first presidential election in well over a decade sees Roh Tae-woo, a former ROK army general, come into power. Authoritarian laws are revised. Freedom of the press is expanded. Travel restrictions are lifted. The Olympic Games come to Seoul. Yet for all of the positive social and political change that’s occurring the country’s economic growth slows to a near stand-still. It’s within this world that our narrator finds herself trapped. She’s a well educated college graduate, yet she’s reduced to moving mindlessly between one menial temporary job to the next in a bid to earn enough money to care for her family. Suah pulls no punches when describing the horrid conditions the woman is forced to endure.READ MORE:

  • Beth Peninger
    2018-12-05 03:34

    Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Crossing for this free readers edition. In exchange I am providing an honest review.Bae Suah is a South Korean author, thank goodness for translators! :) I'm not sure what caught my attention about this novella and compelled me to pick it up. The story is told in first person and we never know the name of this woman. She focuses in on the year 1988 in South Korea. Her father is in prison for a political reason, her brother - 10 years older than her - is headed to Japan to work in the sewers because it is more money, her sister - 10 years younger than her - is still in school and has dreams, and her mother is an alcoholic that sometimes works in the local hospital. The narrator herself is working two jobs but the money earned isn't making a difference. Life is grey. Poverty is a pit that she and her family cannot climb out of. Is this really life?All I kept thinking about while reading this title is what no hope looks like, sounds like, feels like. The nameless narrator has zero hope and she is exhausted on all levels because of it. She drifts in and out of her days with no emotion, no hope, no dreams. She has been to college and received a higher education but is stuck in dead end jobs that provide hardly any money for life. She receives slight attention from men, one in particular in 1988, but that attention fails to stir any kind of emotion in her. The story just ends. It left me wondering how one keeps living a life that is so grey. And it made me wonder how accurate this depiction of life in South Korea might be for the author and/or others she knows.

  • Theresa
    2018-12-13 04:39

    This novelette is a fast yet very powerful read. It is in a sense sad and depressing, but at the same time quite eye-opening as this unnamed young woman takes you through her life of poverty. It is raw and unnerving at times and and makes the reader think of how this existence could be acceptable to live. I questioned why she didn't leave and why she took the abuse of her mother and her other relationships.It is hard to say I enjoyed this book as it is haunting and depressing - as it seems odd that one could enjoy something of that nature. This story is well written and appears to be well translated. It is gripping and quite different than most novels I read.If you want to get a good look inside the life of a poverty stricken woman in Korea, this is certainly a story that will do it. It is at times difficult to read, but the insight and the story is well worth the effort. I highly recommend "Nowhere to Be Found" to anyone that enjoys translated novels, modern literature and just outright gritty and realistic stories.I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

  • Marie-Therese
    2018-12-11 04:41

    Disquieting little book that touches movingly on themes of social class, poverty, humiliation, loss of hope and identity, and self-abasement. Bae's language is poetic without being particularly ornate-a prose style that suits the melancholy first-person musings of her narrator very well. An existential novel for the modern age and, perhaps, especially for South Korea, a trend-driven, status and class-conscious society where political action of any kind all too often seems pointless and "real selves" (a concept invoked frequently in the book) risk erasure or fragmentation in a land of many choices but not always much opportunity. ( I think this book would be great paired with Han Kang's The Vegetarian on a modern literature syllabus or in a class focusing on women in contemporary societies. The two books cover many of the same issues of identity and share essentially the same setting but are different enough stylistically and thematically that it would be illuminating to study them together.)

  • A Reader's Heaven
    2018-11-28 11:52

    (I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)NOWHERE TO BE FOUND is a starkly elegant story about a young woman’s search for meaning in contemporary South Korea that translator Sora Kim-Russell calls “a road novel turned inside out, a story of a woman’s journey out of and into desire told as only Bae Suah could tell it.” As the nameless narrator passes through her life haunted by poverty, conformity, and dysfunctional relationships, she learns to turn inward to discover the truth at the core of her imagination and ultimately to find value, if not reassurance, in her own existence.I think the description above says enough about the aims of this book. As for the writing was okay. Groups of scenes make up this tale and it is done pretty well. I wouldn't say it was exactly my cup of tea but I did enjoy the experience and thank the publisher for the opportunity to read this.PaulARH

  • Mandy
    2018-12-13 09:24

    This haunting and unsettling novella is the story of a young Korean woman in 1988, a turbulent time in Korea, a time of rapid change, the era of the Seoul Olympics and increasing wealth. But none of that touches our unnamed narrator, who wanders aimless and directionless through a series of low-paid jobs as she struggles to support her dysfunctional poverty-stricken family. Only 24, she seems totally detached from her surrounding s and unable to connect with the people around her. She has a boyfriend but the relationship is a distant one. A disturbing story, certainly, but strangely compelling, and although it’s hard to get to know the narrator – after all, she doesn’t really know herself – she engages the reader’s sympathy in this well-paced and well-written story that gives us a glimpse into Korean society.

  • Melissa
    2018-12-01 07:29

    This story was simple, yet so real that I couldn't stop reading. Ok, I know that's not much of a feat since it's only about 60 pages, but I could have read more. This could easily be one story in a series. Basically it's a snapshot in the life of a young woman in a low income family in South Korea. You get a glimpse into her life and then get to see how she reacts when she has one of those days when everything goes wrong. Most of the story takes place on that day. I loved the writing because everything feels so real, like you are going through the experience with her. Definitely worth the read.

  • Melinda
    2018-11-18 03:49

    This novella tells the story of a young Korean woman on a journey in finding herself while living a poverty-stricken life. This story is a bit depressing, but at the same time eye opening in terms of the (little) insight we get into the culture of the young protagonist. She has to deal with an alcoholic mother and living in poverty and yet she still finds love, but loses him. There is so much in this story to ponder about. I’d really recommend it. It’s not a happy story, but it’s short enough to read in about an hour or 2.

  • Angie
    2018-11-15 08:30

    It's hard to describe what Suah is able to do in this short novella. Her narrator is straightforward and pedestrian, except for her breakout moments of passion and despair. She describes the events of 1988 in her life, which seem ordinary but were actually transformative. She looks back on these events from 10 years later, considering what has changed. And what hasn't. She is searching for her own story, her own identity. I'm not convinced she finds it. But it's an intriguing and powerful novella, in the meantime.I got a copy of this from NetGalley.

  • Annie Cole
    2018-12-02 07:42

    A very unique style, an honest invitation into the author's psyche and an all in all interesting read. Dreams collide with fantasies and identities blur but monotony reins. Family members are faceless, emotions are numb and love is absent. What do a chicken carcass, a crow and a hungry dog have in common? Read to find out!

  • Will
    2018-11-23 05:34

    "The rain falls, lays siege to the entire world, as if it has been falling that way for years. The rain will fall even after the death of time. Roof half falling down. Windows broken. Kitchen dripping rainwater. Porch covered in filth. Creaky stairs covered in cats' paw prints. Dead ragdoll, straw insides poking out. And, above all the gruesome things, our frigid relationship."

  • Jamila Johnson
    2018-11-20 04:35

    "And that is how I became an absolutely meaningless thing and survived time."I am a sucker for perfectly imperfect little books about numb people. This book is delicious to me in its simplicity and the way it lingers.

  • Michelle
    2018-11-15 07:46

    An interesting book of one woman's life and how she used everything including her imagination to survive some hard times.She didn't have a lot of space to herself and had to learn to live with what she had and how to deal with her family and those close quarters.

  • Katie
    2018-12-05 05:42

    I can't stop thinking about this book.

  • Richard
    2018-12-06 06:31

    A strange but compelling examination of poverty, alienation and ennui from a Korean perspective. Deeply depressing.