Estimated reading time: 3 minutes.
Hello everyone! For February’s book club meeting on Zoom, we’re reading Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park (2021), translated into English by Anton Hur and recently released in paperback. As described by publisher Grove Atlantic in the US (published by Tilted Axis Press in the UK):
Love in the Big City is the English-language debut of Sang Young Park, one of Korea’s most exciting young writers. A runaway bestseller, the novel hit the top five lists of all the major bookstores and went into nine printings. Both award-winning for its unique literary voice and perspective, and particularly resonant with young readers, it has been a phenomenon in Korea and is poised to capture a worldwide readership.
Love in the Big City is an energetic, joyful, and moving novel that depicts both the glittering nighttime world of Seoul and the bleary-eyed morning-after. Young is a cynical yet fun-loving Korean student who pinballs from home to class to the beds of recent Tinder matches. He and Jaehee, his female best friend and roommate, frequent nearby bars where they push away their anxieties about their love lives, families, and money with rounds of soju and ice-cold Marlboro Reds that they keep in their freezer. Yet over time, even Jaehee leaves Young to settle down, leaving him alone to care for his ailing mother and to find companionship in his relationships with a series of men, including one whose handsomeness is matched by his coldness, and another who might end up being the great love of his life.
A brilliantly written novel filled with powerful sensory descriptions and both humor and emotion, Love in the Big City is an exploration of millennial loneliness as well as the joys of queer life, that should appeal to readers of Sayaka Murata, Han Kang, and Cho Nam-Joo.
For glowing reviews. see Asymptote, Electric Literature, NPR, The New York Times, and you may also be interested in an interview of Park by Hur at Words without Borders, as well as Hurs’ reflections at Literary Hub on translating a bestselling queer Korean novel as a gay Korean man. Alternatively, if videos are more your thing, then check out an author talk at The Korea Society, a conversation between Park and Alexander Chee and an interview of Park by Hur at LTI Korea, and, of course, Books and Bao’s excellent quick review below:
For purchasing the book, try Aladin in Korea (hardback), or publishers Grove Atlantic (US) and Tilted Axis Press (UK).
If you’re interested in attending, please contact me via email, or leave a comment below (only I will be able to see your email address), and I will contact you a week or so before the event. To keep the meetings small and informal, and to help me ensure they’re as safe a space as possible, there’s a limit of 12 participants including myself, so please get in touch early to ensure your place (and give you time to order and read the book!).
See you on Zoom!
If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)