Winter in Sokcho, by Elisa Shua Dusapin

Staff Pick

Set in a South Korean resort town near the DMZ, Dusapin’s arresting first novel is a surprisingly vivid picture of limbo shot in high contrast. The narrator works in a mind-numbing job at a “guest house paralyzed by the cold” where she yearns “to be seen” by a visiting French cartoonist—even as she proves herself a brilliant observer. Through telling images from the synesthetic evocation of “skin clammy from the stench of sea spray that left salt on the cheeks, a taste of iron on the tongue,” to the startling description of how a man’s “throat throbbed when he chewed, like a sickly baby bird, newly born, dying,” Dusapin’s protagonist charts a society stuck in a state of suspended animation, where the only way out is plastic surgery and a move to Seoul—options the woman rejects, yet also makes her own, detailing the way her soup spoon “created ripples, smudging my nose, making my forehead undulate and my cheeks bleed into my skin.” Dusapin’s is a vision of singular power and strange beauty. 

Winter in Sokcho Cover Image
ISBN: 9781948830416
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Open Letter - April 27th, 2021

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