cover image Love in the Big City

Love in the Big City

Sang Young Park, trans. from the Korean by Anton Hur. Grove, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5878-9

Park’s stunning English-language debut takes readers through the wild highs and lows of young adulthood with the story of a gay man, his erstwhile female best friend, and his search for love. Young and Jaehee share a studio apartment in Seoul, where they work odd jobs, spend money they don’t have, compare notes on the men they’re dating (“His hair is so long he has it in two braids. He looks just like a doll. It’s hilarious when we have sex,” Jaehee says about one of them). They support each other after heartbreaks and nightmarish encounters, such as an intruder Jaehee lays out with a high kick. After Jaehee moves in with her safe but boring fiancé, marking the end of the pair’s “vagabond” years, Young moves back in with his parents and takes care of his sick mother, and the two friends grow apart. Young begins to write short stories as a way to replace his nights of rambling with Jaehee, and, after winning a prize, he embarks on a career as a writer. As his star rises, he meets two men—one is handsome but cold, the other could be his true love—and has to choose. The strength of the narrator, notably his flexibility of voice and expansiveness, carries the narrative to great heights, making this a standout among queer literature. Brilliant, glowing, and fun, Hur’s translation succeeds in bringing Park’s effervescent voice to English-reading audiences. (Nov.)