cover image Y/N


Esther Yi. Astra House, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-6626-0153-8

In Yi’s stunning debut, a writer becomes obsessed with a K-pop idol. When the unnamed narrator sees a boy band’s performance, she’s struck with an overpowering love for one of the members, Moon. After, her fandom verges on religious devotion, and she does whatever she can to feel close to Moon, even if it means losing her boyfriend or risking her job. She begins writing stories about meeting him, identifying her protagonist as “Y/N” (your name), so that her readers can imagine themselves as Y/N. When Moon announces he’s leaving the group and retreating from the spotlight, the narrator flies to Seoul to find him, where her fervor increases. Yi brings a distinctive voice and lush prose to her depiction of the narrator’s fixation, which culminates in a contest for fans to meet the band and intertwines with the narrator’s Y/N stories: “One evening, Y/N and Moon buy a pair of codfish and let the bodies hiss parallel in the pan until the smell fills their tiny apartment like the spirit of a third person.” The narrator’s feelings for Moon are complex and varied, which makes her quest endlessly intriguing. Strange, haunting, and undeniably beautiful, this shines. Agent: Ian Bonaparte, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Mar.)