My whole life was basically a series of not clever moves.
A huge bestseller in his native South Korea, Sang Young Park’s Love in the Big City follows the exploits of the autobiographically-based Young as he searches for sex, searches for love, searches for happiness—but as is probably true for most of us, not exactly sure what he is searching for—all the while caring for his ailing mother, going to school, becoming a writer, and enjoying the company of his best friend/roommate, Jaehee. Young (both the author and the character) explores what it means to be “gay”, pushing back against the tedium of daily life with lots of late nights of drinking and sex (lots of drinking and lots of sex!). I liked this fresh take on “the gay novel,” and really identified with Young, his weaknesses and foibles and confusion, as he navigates the ambiguous landscape of “being gay” and the messy journey that is life. I liked how effortlessly the narrative seemed to flow, how real it seemed to be, the author’s semi-autobiographical, self-deprecating musings filled with a humor and a poignancy and ennui that captures the character of Young in all his contradictions as he discovers sex/passion/love/rejection/lust/desire/coupledom, while at the same time “being forced to grow up a bit in the face of suffering.” Ed loved and highly recommends!— Ed
Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park, translated by Anton Hur, follows Young, a South Korean gay man searching for happiness and love, or at least his next hook up. A huge hit in South Korea, and the author's first book to be published in English, the novel is formed by a handful of linked stories that feature several of Young's loves: his best friends, his mother, men. Drifting between bars and boys in Seoul's nightlife, Young likes to have a good time before returning to class, or work, or caring for his ailing mother. In the background is South Korean society in which LGBTQ rights are not recognized, leaving Young and other queer folk living duel lives, "out and proud" among friends but hiding everywhere else. Though there is heartbreak, Park's writing and Hur's translation are lively and funny, making Love in the Big City an insightful and exciting read! Matty recommends if you like: translated literature, life in the big city, and the triumphs and traumas of gay romance!— Matty
“I’ve never read a book with a voice like Sang Young Park brings to this novel — young, queer, Korean — unafraid to tackle important issues while remaining funny, edgy, and approachable. I can’t wait to read whatever he writes next.”
— Adam Possehl, Powell's Books, Portland, OR
A funny, transporting, surprising, and poignant novel that was one of the highest-selling debuts of recent years in Korea, Love in the Big City tells the story of a young gay man searching for happiness in the lonely city of Seoul
Love in the Big City is the English-language debut of Sang Young Park, one of Korea's most exciting young writers. A runaway bestseller, the novel hit the top five lists of all the major bookstores, went into twenty-six printings, and was praised for its unique literary voice and perspective. It is now poised to capture a worldwide readership.
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 push away their anxieties about their love lives, families, and money with rounds of soju and ice-cold Marlboro Reds that they keep in their freezer. Yet over time, even Jaehee leaves Young to settle down, leaving him alone to care for his ailing mother and to 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.
A brilliantly written novel that takes us
into the glittering nighttime of Seoul and
the bleary-eyed morning after with both
humor and emotion, Love in the Big City
is a wry portrait of millennial loneliness as
well as the abundant joys of queer life.