cover image Liar, Dreamer, Thief

Liar, Dreamer, Thief

Maria Dong. Grand Central, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5387-2356-2

Broke and estranged from her Korean family, Katrina Kim, the narrator of Dong’s mesmerizing debut, works a dead-end job at a soulless Illinois hospital billing firm. Her deepening reliance on OCD behaviors and her fear that the magical kingdom of a childhood book is becoming real throw her life into chaos, as does her obsession with her more successful colleague, Kurt Smith. Though Katrina and Kurt have barely spoken, the books and music she discovers searching his desk convince her that they’re kindred souls. One day, she finds a postcard with a threatening message in his desk drawer. Terrified it’s directed at her, she drives at midnight to the bridge she regularly visits, to perform the most potent of her self-soothing rituals. Then Kurt shows up, shouts some words of blame, and jumps to his death. Katrina is horrified and baffled. How does he know of Katrina’s visits to the bridge? Was he surveilling her even as she surveilled him—and who is he really? Katrina’s search for answers reveals secrets all around her. This nuanced depiction of a woman’s struggles with isolation and mental health rings entirely true. Fans of sharp, inventive fiction will be eager for Dong’s next. Agent: Amy Bishop, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Jan.)