cover image Saha


Cho Nam-Joo, trans. from the Korean by Jamie Chang. Liveright, $22 (224p) ISBN 978-1-324-09088-5

National Book Award finalist Cho (Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982) explores the implications of a corporation with unlimited power in this nuanced dystopian tale. An unnamed company buys a fishing village, and as the narrative progresses into the near future, the village becomes a city-state known simply as Town. The inhabitants are divided into three classes: Citizens; L2s, who possess visas and are on a path to citizenship; and outcasts dubbed “Saha” for the run-down apartment complex they live at, Saha Estates. The Saha work menial jobs and live in substandard conditions, and they’re scapegoated in the media for all of Town’s problems. Su, a doctor, treats the Saha and then moves in with Do-Kyung, a Saha who becomes a portrait painter at her encouragement. Woomi, a Saha child born during a pandemic, is experimented on by doctors. Yonhwa, an L2, leaves an abusive marriage of convenience with a citizen to live with the Saha. All the while, mysterious custodians, whose salaries are paid by the Saha, watch over them. In one chilling scene, the cops come to the Saha complex looking for someone to blame for arson. Though the big picture remains elusive, Cho’s close-ups consistently captivate, and the author has an easy hand capturing her characters’ spirit. Fans of Squid Game will be drawn to the author’s grim vision. Agent: Markus Hoffman, Regal, Hoffmann & Assoc. (Nov.)