As if Marguerite Duras wrote Convenience Store Woman – a beautiful, unexpected novel from a debut French Korean author
It’s winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, beyond the beach guns point out from the North’s watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape.
The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an ‘authentic’ Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls, and cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows – the gaudy neon lights, the scars of war, the fish market where her mother works. As she’s pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen.
An exquisitely-crafted debut, which won the Prix Robert Walser, Winter in Sokcho is a novel about shared identities and divided selves, vision and blindness, intimacy and alienation. Elisa Shua Duspain’s voice is distinctive and unmistakable.
‘A masterpiece.’ – Huffington Post
‘A tender and poetic first novel.’ – Le Monde
‘Mysterious, beguiling, and glowing with tender intelligence, Winter in Sokcho is a master class in tension and atmospherics, a study of the delicate, murky filaments of emotion that compose a life. Dusapin has a rare and ferocious gift for pinning the quick, slippery, liveness of feeling to the page: her talent is a thrill to behold.’ – Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
‘I haven’t encountered a voice like this since Duras – spellbinding.’ – ELLE (France)
‘Atmospheric, exquisitely written and highly charged.’ – Olivia Sudjic, author of Sympathy
‘Remarkable in its formal daring and maturity.’ – Lire