A review by rieviolet
Love in the Big City, by Sang Young Park

emotional funny reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I was very much impressed by the first and second sections ("Jaehee" and "A Bite of Rockfish, Taste the Universe"). I found that the author did really well in exploring the main character's thoughts and feelings and translating them onto the page. So many episodes (especially those that had to do with prejudice and discrimination, and with his relationship with his mother) affected me deeply and broke my heart. 

I didn't like as much the third and fourth sections ("Love in the Big City" and "Late Rainy Season Vacation"). I think those parts just resonated less with me and I wasn't as much captured by the narrative (which sometimes jumped a little confusingly between time lines) and by its style. 
The ending felt a little bit abrupt, I wasn't expecting nor I actually wanted a perfect resolution (I think it would have clashed too much with the overall tone of the novel and the narrative line), I just would've liked it to finish at a different point, in a slightly different way.
Also, I really liked the main character's sense of humour, his funny and a bit dry voice made for a very engaging narrative but I think that this wittiness was more evident in the first section and then became a bit more sparse in the following ones. 

All in all, this was a really good book and I'm very glad I've got to read about the experience of queerness in South Korea. 

I have to briefly mention the "Acknowledgements" section because reading the author's own words made me really emotional. I especially loved and was moved by the very last paragraphs.

When I write - or when I'm going about my day - I sometimes feel as vague and uncertain as if I'm all alone wandering through a cloud of dust, but sometimes I feel a warmth, like my hands have touched something. I want to call that something love. I know all too well how this emotion called love, how the word itself, can easily crumble into nothing, but all I can do is tightly grip this tiny bit of warmth and embrace it with all my might. Just so I can live on as myself. Just so I can live this life as myself and myself alone.

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