03 Apr / Recitation by Bae Suah, translated by Deborah Smith [in Library Journal]
For Kyung-hee, a self-described “theatre actor specializing in recitation,” the “roving life” proves to be the only antidote to “everything [being] irresolvably vague and depressing.” Traveling through Europe and Asia, she shares experiences and memories with new acquaintances and more intimate friends. Wandering without particular plans, she is often the beneficiary of the kindness of strangers for shelter, companionship, and connection.
Bae Suah’s third title in English – and second to be mellifluously rendered by Deborah Smith, who is quickly becoming the Korean-into-English translator of choice – is considerably denser than her previous works.
From the Starbucks logo as a familiar “international ideograph” to dysfunctional families in which a sibling can choose to disappear literally overnight to arbiters of culture as varied as Reader’s Digest and Swiss novelist/playwright Max Frisch, Bae explores, examines, and ultimately challenges today’s global (non) citizen. The author’s unforeseen metamorphosis in the final chapter as a subversively unreliable narrator is an exceptionally adroit achievement. Highly recommended for intrepid readers searching for out-of-the-box literary revelry.
Published: 2017 (United States)