Booker International Longlist 2022 – Love in the Big City
Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park Translated by Anton Hur
Reviewed by Rachel and Tracy
Synopsis from Booker Prize website: An energetic, joyful, and moving novel that depicts both the glittering night-time world of Seoul, and the bleary-eyed morning after. Translated by Anton Hur.
Young is a cynical yet fun-loving Korean student who pinballs from home to class to the beds of recent Tinder 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.
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.
Rachel’s Thoughts: I loved this. It started out fun and became surprisingly moving, touching on so many issues, but with a lightness you don’t always associate with Booker books. This is the story (or four stories) of a young gay man, through his 20s and 30s, and the people he loves in various ways – best friend, mother, partners and lovers.
It feels like real life. The situations he deals with are major, but there’s no drama – there’s humour and bickering and struggling and moving on and growing up. Just lovely. I’m really happy this year’s longlist introduced me to Sang Young Park, and I’m sorry to leave this behind.
Writing quality: 5/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 3.5/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Tracy’s Thoughts: A series of four connected sections, Love in the Big City follows Young, a gay man living his life in Seoul. Imagine Quentin Tarantino directing Tales of the City.
It had moments of brightness, but for the most part, it was hard to connect with the story- it felt jumpy and disjointed. To be fair, though, I don’t think I was the intended audience for this book. It was directed more toward millennial/GenZ.
Writing quality: 3/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Elena Knows 18.25
Books of Jacob 18.25
Happy Stories, Mostly 16
The Book of Mother 16
Love in the big City 15.75
After the Sun 11.33
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