cover image At Night He Lifts Weights

At Night He Lifts Weights

Kang Young-Sook, trans. from the Korean by Janet Hong. Transit, $16.95 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-1-945492-70-9

This powerful collection from Young-Sook (Rina) strikingly depicts alienation, catastrophic loss, and disaster in ravaged landscapes. The title story, set in an unspecified city, follows an aging, isolated woman living in squalid conditions who learns of a local series of unsolved murders. She suspects an old man lifting weights at the playground is the culprit and decides to take the investigation into her own hands. In “Radio and River,” the narrator, Oh, is grieving the death of his only friend in a flood. His family ignores him when he suggests they take a vacation together, so he goes on a road trip alone. Afterward, Oh visits the art center where his friend’s body was found and encounters his ghost. Set in Seoul, “Greenland” is the story of a woman who marries the third man she dated. They settle into parenthood alongside their friends until financial hardships begin plaguing their crowd, revealing secrets and deceptions. The woman thinks, “At first, everyone had sparkled, but the more we met, the more we talked about our problems, and it was tiresome to talk about the same things we always talked about.” Young-Sook’s perceptive stories provide an unwavering and honest gaze at human nature. (Nov.)