Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun

Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun

Korean fiction

Original title – 레몬)

Translator – Janet Hong

Source – review copy

I now head to South Korea and a collection of interlinking short stories from the Korean writer Kwon Yeo-Son. She has won a number of Literary prizes in Korea and is known for her style that shows the cracks in Everyday life it says on her Korean Wiki pages with an honest and unstoppable voice. This book was initially a short story. she has published ten books and this is her first work to be translated into English. The book follows what is called “The high school Beauty murder” that happened in 2002 as the World Cup was happening in Korea it is a good way of framing the timeframe of the events as the world cup unfolding helps form a time line of the events.

I imagine what happened inside the police interrogation room so many years ago. By imagine, I don’t mean invent. But it’s not like i was actually there, so I don’t know what else to call it. I picture the scene from that day, based on what he told me and some other clues , my own experience and conclussion. It’s not just this scene I imagine. For over sixteen years. i’ve pondered, prodded and worked every detail embroiled in the case known as “THe High school Beauty Murder” – to the point I often fool myself into thinking I’d personally witnessed the circumstances now stamped on my minds eye.

The opening lines of the first chapter of the book as Han Manu is at the police station but in hidsight his view of events maybe isn’t the same as then!

The book opens with the integration of Han Manu he was on his scooter when he saw Kim Hae On and is one of the two main suspects of the killing of the teen Beauty queen. He is getting interviewed but never charged and as the threads and suspects all run cold the case is dead we then move back and forward in time as we view the three points of view that make up the collection of eight short stories. As we see what happens and has happened since the murder. It is more about the ripples from that event and the two main narrators are the sister of the victim Do- on she is stuck after her sister’s death and eventually takes steps to look like her sister more and we see that her sister boyfriend who had an Albi but maybe is more involved in the death as he was the other person apart from Manu that spent the last evening in his SUV that he was driving kim around in the evening before she was found murdered. The other narrative is kim’s classmate Sanghui now her narrative gives another angle on the events during and after the Murder.

I asked myself; Did I want to go back to that time, too? When I’d been so wld about Joyce that I’d written my poem ” Betty Byrne, maker of Lemon Platt?” if we could actually go back to that time would I ? I didn’t know . But I still remember  the first lines of that poen

Today again I burned the platt

nothing ever goes right for you, Betty Byrne

The connection to Joyce is here about Da On and Eonni chat about her poetry

The book is told in A Joycean style  well a little. As the book it isn’t about finding who killed Kim at the time.  it has dark elements also a lot about the class system in Korea. The difference in how the two suspects are viewed is the rich Shin thew boyfriend and the poor delivery boy that is suspected more even though he says Kim wouldn’t look at him. Kim was rich but it is more a look at the aftermath of the killing of High School Beauty Murder.  There is a part where James Joyce is discussed there is a stream of conciseness style I also felt it had a fragmented nature to it like little clues to what had happened and what had happened since almost like a puzzle and we the readers, we can fill the gaps as we want. It looks at the aftermath of death on a family members Murder like Suicide is such a life-changing event for those living behind it effects last forever. I enjoyed this book it is an interesting look at murder that isn’t really a crime novel in the sense of a dective novel more a series of reflections and glimpse of what happened on that night. As it says the facts and what happen to the people on that day can blur and had.

Winstons score – -A near-perfect look at the aftermath of a murder from three perspectives.

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