cover image Walking Practice

Walking Practice

Dolki Min, trans. from the Korean by Victoria Caudle. HarperVia, $25.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-06-325861-7

Min probes themes such as gender and otherness in this provocative if clunky story of an alien trapped on Earth. The unnamed and ungendered narrator, the lone survivor of an attack on their planet, is stranded on Earth with no way of getting home. To cope with their isolation and hunger, they painfully transform their alien body to look human, then engage in random hookups. After sex, they kill and eat their lovers. Throughout this process, they struggle both physically (forcing their body to conform to human standards) and mentally (the repressed guilt of killing to survive). As an outsider, their labor to replicate human traits provides an opportunity for soliloquies about the gender binary and the ways it’s policed (“You, dear reader, must be curious about my gender.... Or you might have scraped together clues from what I’ve said and how I’ve said it, constructing my gender to your own design”). Underneath, the narrator aches with a desire for connection. Abstract illustrations by Min hint at the narrator’s private bodily state, and clever changes in the formatting indicate whether the narrator is in their natural or human form. Though the prose is sometimes stilted, the narrator’s earnest struggles with loneliness feel genuine. Despite some missteps, this is worth a look. (Mar.)