cover image The Queens of K-town

The Queens of K-town

Angela Mi Young Hur, . . MacAdam/Cage, $23 (280pp) ISBN 978-1-59692-245-7

This uneven first novel, a meditation on stress and suicide among young Korean-American women, has some wonderfully telling details: where another heroine might ice her lover’s wounds with a bag of frozen peas (standard issue from the props department), Cora Moon uses frozen edamame. Fleeing grad school and a bad breakup for New York’s Koreatown, Cora, 26, arrives at her borrowed apartment to find a crowd gathered: a young woman on the roof is getting ready to jump, and the doorman says she’s the third in 15 years. From there, dual narratives look back over the suicide of Cora’s high school friend and forward through Cora’s reckoning with her own desire to jump. A little dark humor helps: buying 50 cards to write suicide notes in bulk, Cora throws in an extra: “Poor Sophie would have to deliver these... she decided she’d get her sister a gift certificate at a bookstore to show her gratitude.” Rough structural edges and sometimes awkward language make this a promising but flawed debut. (Aug.)