This book is simultaneously uncomfortable and endearing, remaining in an amorphous zone of being content and discontent and constantly questioning what it means to see and to be seen. Dusapin writes of the acquaintance between a young receptionist at a tourist hotel on the border between North and South Korea and a visiting French graphic novelist. As they explore the area and grow close, the distance between them remains. It is slow, uneventful, and absolutely gorgeous. Dusapin's words and Higgins's ensnaring translation will leave you grasping for more until the very last sentence.— From Sofia
2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER FOR TRANSLATED LITERATURE
As if Marguerite Duras wrote Convenience Store Woman--a beautiful, unexpected novel from a debut French Korean author
It's winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, beyond the beach guns point out from the North's watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape.The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an "authentic" Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls, and cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows--the gaudy neon lights, the scars of war, the fish market where her mother works. As she's pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen.
An exquisitely-crafted debut, which won the Prix Robert Walser, Winter in Sokcho is a novel about shared identities and divided selves, vision and blindness, intimacy and alienation. Elisa Shua Dusapin's voice is distinctive and unmistakable.