The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun is utterly devastating and tragic. Oghi, a professor and PhD student had everything–until he has nothing. After waking up from a coma, we witness Oghi’s introspection of his life. This book is all about the terrifying what-ifs of living in the fragile state that is humankind. Although this story is painful in many ways, it allows us to see the beauty in the everyday and reminds us not to take our bright moments for granted. This book is not for the faint of heart.
Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award. Named One of the Top 10 Thrillers to Read This Summer by Time Magazine. Misery meets The Vegetarian in this psychological thriller about loneliness and the dark truths we try to bury.
In this tense, gripping novel by a star of Korean literature, Oghi has woken from a coma after causing a devastating car accident that took his wife's life and left him paralyzed and badly disfigured. His caretaker is his mother-in-law, a widow grieving the loss of her only child. Oghi is neglected and left alone in his bed. His world shrinks to the room he lies in and his memories of his troubled relationship with his wife, a sensitive, intelligent woman who found all of her life goals thwarted except for one: cultivating the garden in front of their house.
But soon Oghi notices his mother-in-law in the abandoned garden, uprooting what his wife had worked so hard to plant and obsessively digging larger and larger holes. When asked, she answers only that she is finishing what her daughter started.
A bestseller in Korea, The Hole is a superbly crafted and deeply unnerving novel about the horrors of isolation and neglect in all of its banal and brutal forms. As Oghi desperately searches for a way to escape, he discovers the difficult truth about his wife and the toll their life together took on her.
About the Author
Hye-young Pyun was born in 1972. She made her literary debut in Korean in 2000 when she won Seoul Shinmun's annual New Writer's Contest with her short story "Shaking Off Dew." She has gone on to publish four short story collections and five novels. She has received several of Korea's most prestigious literary awards, including the Dong-in Literary Award in 2011, the Yi-sang Literary Award in 2014, and the Hyundae Munhak Award in 2015. She has published short stories in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and Words Without Borders. City of Ash and Red was named Book of the Year when it was published in Poland, and it has been licensed to France, Turkey, China, and Vietnam as well. Her novel The Hole is a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award. She lives in Seoul, Korea.
Sora Kim-Russell is a literary translator based in Seoul. Her translations include Hwang Sok-yong’s Princess Bari, Suah Bae’s Nowhere to be Found, and Kyung-sook Shin’s I’ll Be Right There. She teaches at Ewha Womans University and the Literary Translation Institute of Korea. Her full list of publications can be found at sorakimrussell.com.
Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award "A Korean take on Misery," —Time magazine, "Top 10 Thrillers to Read This Summer"
"Hye-young Pyun's The Hole is a masterwork of suspense, and a profound meditation on grief, solitude, and secrecy. At once unsettling and richly moving, The Hole is vital novel, a gift from a wildly inventive writer." —Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me
"By the time Hye-young Pyun's taut psychological thriller The Hole has tightened its grip on the unsuspecting mind, it's too late to escape. The shadows lurking in the novel become manifest, and dark poetic justice reigns. . . . The Hole is an unshakable novel about the unfathomable depths of human need." —Shelf Awareness
“Pyun offers her work to an international audience on her own terms, by speaking directly to the state of alienation made familiar to much of the world by globalization. . . . The amnesiac protagonist is left unnamed because he is us.”—Jae Won Chung, Boston Review
"Like Hitchcock or Abe, Pyun peers head on into the unnerving depths of human grief with the most methodical of eye, logically narrating our descent into such a clear, uncanny terror we hope to remind ourselves its only just a book, one wound from end to end with an exquisite magic that refuses to let go." —Blake Butler, author of 300,000,000
"While reading The Hole, you’ll find yourself suddenly doubting everything. Pyun is asking us a tough and terrifying question that none can dodge: Is your life safe?" —Kyung-sook Shin, New York Times bestselling author of Please Look After Mom
"Winner of many of Korea's top literary prizes and accolades, Pyun proves to be an effectively chilling storyteller whose expert narrative manipulations should earn new followers." —Booklist
"An absorbing look at the struggle to find meaning in life's little passages, arguments, and disagreements."—SF Book Review
"[Be] wary; you’ll be thinking and dreaming this novel long after you’ve put it down." —Words Without Borders July 2017 Watchlist
"A claustrophobic, riveting story calculated to get under your skin."—Korean Literature Now
"Fissures in life offer a glimpse of the truth that starts not from others but from us and that we are all oblivious to." —Maeil Business News Korea
"The Hole is rooted in character but has the suspense of a thriller. . . For readers who are unafraid of knowing that our life and our loved ones are strangers to us." —Krys Lee, World Literature Today
"Reminiscent of Stephen King's Misery, Hye-young Pyun's The Hole shows off her unique style of steadily rising terror with this dark tale of a man utterly cut off from his life." —Munhwa Ilbo (Korea)
"[A] disconcerting and often sinister story." —Korea Herald