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01 May 2007 @ 04:20 pm
'The Interpreter' by Suki Kim  
i've read this book once a year for the past three years. there's nothing that stands out as spectacular about it, it just has it's own quiet appeal. it's about a korean-american woman who has lost her family: her parents were shot in their store five years ago, and her sister has disappeared. as she tries to track down her sister, she finds out more about her parents' secret activities that might have lead to their death. i really like the main characer, suzy: she's so lonely.

(i put mystery as one of my tags-- do we have that genre yet?)

in this first section, she goes to koreatown to talk to her parents' accountant, and when that fails, she ends up in a tiny marrow-bone-soup restaurant downstairs.

After Suzy moved out of her parent's house, she often stopped by this neighborhood, whenever she craved Korean food. She would sit alone with a book or a newspaper and order a bowl of sulongtang. Back then, there was no way one could get ahold of kimchi on 116th Street. Sure, Columbia was filled with students from around the world. Along Broadway, there was a number of Chinese takeouts, as well as a few sushi bars. And if you really wanted to splurge, it wasn't hard to find all kinds of exotic food, from the candlelit Tibetan parlor on Riverside to the hole-in-the-wall Ethiopian takeout near the Law School building. Yet for Korean food you still had to travel down to 32nd Street. It was still the end of the eighties. The kimchi trend had not yet begun among students. It soon stopped mattering, though, because things changed almost overnight. First, when Damian happened in her life, she stopped craving anything except him. She would go wherever he suggested. She would skip food all day if that was what he wanted. Besides, they would not have dared entering 32nd Street together, for fear of bumping into anyone they knew. Then, later, with her parents' death, everything lost its color. On certain rainy days, she would wander into this corner of the city, wanting so much, wanting anything on the menu. She would experience such an immense hunger that she wouldn't know which dish to choose. It was as if she was looking to fill a certain longing, a certain desperation. Yet, by the time the food arrived, she no longer had any appetite. In fact, she could not bear the sudden rush of Korean flavors. It was impossible. It hit too close to home. It fell upon her like a sad awakening. Soon she just stopped coming.

after finding out her parents' secret, suzy goes home and sleeps for days, and has a nightmare. [warning: language]

Now comes another face. The same black hair. The same heartbreaking eyes. The same pursed lips, across which one finger makes a cross to say hush. Now two where there was one. Two identical faces floating parallel. It is not clear which one was first. Upon a closer look, the no longer seem identical. A slight incongruence, although it is impossible to pinpoint what. She thinks she recognizes the one on the left. She is almost certain that one of them is her own, but which? She keeps turning from one to the other. What could be more terrifying than failing to identify one's own face?
White is the color of sadness.
A premonition.
A creepy joke.
Each dried-up bulb is her mother watching.
Dead inside.
Like fucking a ghost, Michael grunted after their first night.
The phone startles her again. The exactly four rings, beckoning her from the world outside. Michael is there. So is Damian. Detective Lester. Kim Yong Su. All those Korean immigrants whom her parents had betrayed, who gathered together one morning to plot their murder. The only way they can get to her now is by dialing the seven-digit number. Instead of whispering her name, instead of kissing her face so gently, they must dial the number first. They must keep on dialing to catch her. She is no longer nineteen. She's learned a trick or two. She's buried herself between the hills from which the faces look on a girl drowning. No one will find her here. A perfect hideout.
The Rev: michaelthe_reverand on May 2nd, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC)
The bit about her grief and her hunger is particularly nice...

I shall add 'mystery'.