Wow, just wow. There’s something about Love in the Big City that just makes you glued to it and I read it in two sittings (I’m human, I need sleep). It also cured me of my laziness when it comes to writing book reviews. Right after finishing the last page, I feel so compelled to type out jumbled thoughts on why I love love love the book so much, hoping to make some sense of why I’m so attracted to it.
Love in the Big City is Sang Young Park‘s English-language debut. This book has such a magnetic personality, only a translator who is equally cool and charismatic can make it work. I’ve always been captivated by translator Anton Hur‘s voice in his translations, and it just shines through in this book. There are many snarky lines that I love and highlighted in the e-book and gosh, some are just gold.
There’s something about living vicariously through flawed characters that are so open and honest about their thoughts, whether it’s in the narration or in the dialogue. The narrator Mr Park (also sometimes referred to as Mr Young) takes the words out of my mouth sometimes, and I marvel at how he dares to say things that I’ve always thought (but not voice out).
I also love how the book is so raw and real when it comes to families. I don’t know about others, but at least people around me (including myself) don’t openly discuss family and growing up, I felt like I was living in a fantasy world where everyone else’s families are “normal”, for lack of a better word. Mr Park’s relations with his mother truly hit home for me, especially the part about how he truly wants an apology from his mother and that his acute awareness that it’s not going to come.
Beyond the emotional rollercoaster—from the highs of snarky retorts to the lows of breakups and loss—that the novel brings, there are also many important issues nestled within. Youth unemployment, homophobia, alcoholism, to name a few.
One thing I love about ebooks is that it’s easy to see what I’ve highlighted and bookmarked, and this novel contains more highlights that my textbooks.
This is my favorite line in the book.
It takes so much for a person to tell that to someone else, and I hope I would one day meet someone who I would say that to.
A couple of other personal favorites.
To me, love is a thing you can’t stop when you’re caught up in it, a brief moment you can escape from only after it turns into the most hideous thing imaginable when you distance yourself from it.
An excess of self-awareness was a disease in itself
There are many many more (snarky) lines I love, but will keep them to myself and for you to discover the gold.
Kudos to Tilted Axis Press who emailed print subscribers with the ebook link 🙂 It’s just so nice to get a chance to read it hot off the press. If not, I would have been hounding my mum (who’s in charge of getting the mail) every day.
I still can’t wait for the physical copy to come and go on the ride once more. Definitely looking forward to seeing more of Park’s work in translation.
Synopsis from Tilted Axis Press
You’re in for a treat with Love in the Big City – energetic, joyful, and moving, this novel depicts both the glittering nighttime world of Seoul and the bleary-eyed morning-after.
matches. He and Jaehee, his female best friend and roommate, frequent nearby bars where they suppress their anxieties about their love lives, families, and money with rounds of soju and freezer-chilled Marlboro Reds. Yet in time even Jaehee settles down, leaving Young alone to care for his ailing mother and find companionship in his relationships with a series of men, including one whose handsomeness is matched by his coldness, and another who might end up being the great love of his life.
While you are at it, I highly recommend the Tilted Axis yearly subscription. I subscribed to both the 2020 and 2021 editions. I was late in getting the 2020 one, which is kinda great, cos they will send the whole year’s books at one shot. Nothing beats having 6-7 books at your doorstep at one go. But I’m also enjoying having the books trickling one by one as they are published this year 🙂 Love in the Big City is part of the 2021 sub!