cover image Lemon


Kwon Yeo-Sun, trans. from the Korean by Janet Hong. Other Press, $20 (176p) ISBN 978-1-63542-088-3

South Korean author Kwon’s powerful English-language debut explores issues of jealousy, loss, and physical beauty. Long after the event, “short and dumpy” Kim Da-on remains obsessed with the 2002 murder of her preternaturally beautiful but strange older sister, Hae-on, in high school, whether in imagining the scene in the investigation room, trying to embody her sister’s look through plastic surgery, befriending the family of one of the suspects in a search for closure, or diving into poetry and prayer. Chapters are structured as short stories, with notable shifts of tone between sections. Most are narrated by Da-on, either introspectively or obliquely through one-sided conversations with counselors, but some approach Da-on from the perspective of an old friend meeting her years later. Though the novel has the bones of an unsolved crime story, any objective solution is besides the point, even as Da-on’s conversations with others yield more information. Those ready to sink into a creepy and intense yet understated emotional experience will find that this story hits and sticks. Agent: Barbara Zitwer, Barbara J. Zitwer Agency. (Oct.)