In the fast-paced, high-urban landscape of Seoul, C and K are brothers who have fallen in love with the same woman Se-yeon who tears at both of them as they all try desperately to find real connection in an atomized world. A spectral, nameless narrator haunts the edges of their lives as he tells of his work helping the lost and hurting find escape through suicide.Read more...
In the fast-paced, high-urban landscape of Seoul, C and K are brothers who have fallen in love with the same woman Se-yeon who tears at both of them as they all try desperately to find real connection in an atomized world. A spectral, nameless narrator haunts the edges of their lives as he tells of his work helping the lost and hurting find escape through suicide. Dreamlike and beautiful, the South Korea brought forth in this novel is cinematic in its urgency and its reflection of contemporary life everywhere far beyond the boundaries of the Korean peninsula. Recalling the emotional tension of Milan Kundera and the existential anguish of Bret Easton Ellis, I Have the Right to Destroy Myself achieves its author s greatest wish to show Korean literature as part of an international tradition. Young-ha Kim is a young master, the leading literary voice of his generation."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 28.
- Review Date: 2007-04-23
- Reviewer: Staff
Korean novelist Kim’s tantalizing 1996 debut novel concerns a calculating, urbane young man who makes a business of helping his clients commit suicide. The narrator’s favorite painting, Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Marat, encapsulates his outlook—to be “detached and cold,” an approach reflected in his account of a recent client who was romantically involved with two brothers (called C and K). The woman, Se-yeon, is a young, spacey, lollipop-sucking drifter who first hangs out with K before bedding C. Cab-driver K and video artist C become obsessed with Se-Yeon, who looks (to them) like Gustave Klimt’s Judith. Judith, as they subsequently refer to her, later wanders off into a snowstorm, never to be seen by the brothers again. However, in this eerie, elliptical narrative, Judith reappears as the narrator’s client. Moreover, Judith morphs into other objects of desire, such as a woman from Hong Kong the narrator meets in Vienna and an elusive performance artist named Mimi whom C films. Kim’s work is a self-conscious literary exploration of truth, death, desire and identity, and though it traffics in racy themes, it never devolves into base voyeurism. (July)