Lemon; Kwon Yeo-sun
Other Press - 10/26/2021
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book Reviews. Each week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book we are reading or plan to read soon.
I IMAGINE what happened inside the police interrogation room so many years ago. By imagine, I don't mean invent. But it's not like I was actually there, so I don't know what else to call it. I picture the scene from that day, based on what he told me and some other clues, my own experience and conclusions. It's not just this scene I imagine. For over sixteen years, I've pondered, prodded, and worked every detail embroiled in the case known as "The High School Beauty Murder"--to the point I often fool myself into thinking I personally witnessed the circumstances now stamped on my mind's eye. The imagination just as painful as reality. No, it's more painful. After all, what you imagine has no limit or end.
What do you think of that intro? This was a short novella, just 147 pages. It was an excellent translation from the Korean by Janet Kong.
Brief Review: This was a very different kind of story from anything I've read in a while. Each of the eight chapters held me captivated and my mind guessing as I tried to piece together how exactly this 2002 murder of Kim Hae, a high school beauty, would play out. The story takes us back (17) years earlier to a time when there were two male suspects from different social classes but, since there was no concrete evidence the case eventually went cold.
The story is told from (3) POVs: the victim's younger sister and (2) former classmates of the deceased. More than solving the crime itself, this is a story that focuses on how the those impacted by the victim's death have dealt with what has happened. This was a rather quick read that left me thinking; I was happy I had the chance to read it. The book releases today in the US.
Author Bio: Kwon Yeo-sun was born in Andong, South Korea, and now lives in Seoul. In 1996 she received the Sangsang Literary Award for her debut novel, Niche of Green. Her subsequent novels and short stories have received numerous literary awards, including the Hankook Ilbo Literary Award, Yi Sang Literary Prize, and the Oh Yeong-su Literature Award, among others. Lemon is her first novel to be published in English. Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the 2018 TA First Translation Prize and the 16th LTI Korea Translation Award for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, which was also a finalist for both the 2018 PEN Translation Prize and the 2018 National Translation Award. Her recent translations include Ha Seong-nan’s Bluebeard’s First Wife, Ancco’s Nineteen, and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass.
Note: I received a free copy of this book from Other Press in exchange for my unbiased review.