cover image The Eyes Are the Best Part

The Eyes Are the Best Part

Monika Kim. Erewhon, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-64566-123-8

In Kim’s provocative debut horror novel, Ji-won, a Korean American college student, wrestles with her psychological turmoil and the gruesome appetites it arouses. The title comes from a comment Ji-won’s mother makes that eating the eye of a fish is supposed to bring good luck. When Ji-won overcomes her revulsion and finally eats one, she develops an obsessive interest in the eyes of others—especially the blue eyes of George, her mother’s boorish new white boyfriend whom she and her younger sister loathe. Ji-won’s disturbed state of mind is understandable, given that she’s also grappling with her father’s abandonment of the family and with unwanted romantic advances from a college classmate—providing all the catalysts needed to transform her eye obsession into a grisly hunger. Kim’s antagonistic male characters all hail from jerk central casting and are easy targets for reader dislike. By contrast, her depiction of Ji-won’s fond but exasperated relationship with her mother and her sister, Ji-hyun, conveys authentic familial intimacy. Though the finale relies on some credibility-stretching contrivances, Kim’s talent buoys her tale through its rough spots and distinguishes her as a writer to watch. Agent: Nicola Barr, Bent Agency. (June)