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 Dusapin’s voice is distinctive and unmistakable.

 

Elisa Shua Dusapin was born in France in 1992 and raised in Paris, Seoul, and Switzerland. Winter in Sokcho is her first novel. Published in 2016 to wide acclaim, it was awarded the Prix Robert Walser and the Prix Régine Desforges and has been translated into six languages.

 

About the Translator: Aneesa Abbas Higgins has translated books by Elisa Shua Dusapin, Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Ali Zamir, and Nina Bouraoui. Seven Stones by Vénus Khoury-Ghata was short-listed for the Scott-Moncrieff Translation Prize, and both A Girl Called Eel by Ali Zamir and What Became of the White Savage by François Garde won PEN Translates awards.

 

“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

“A vivid, tactile, often claustrophobic, and gorgeously written novel. An absolute joy from beginning to end.” —Lara Williams, author of Supper Club

 

“Oiled with a brooding tension that never dissipates or resolves, Winter in Sokcho is a noirish cold sweat of a book.”—Guardian Top 10 Best New Books in Translation

 

“Dusapin’s precise sentences, expertly translated by Higgins, elicit cinematic images and strong emotions. This poignant, fully realized debut shouldn’t be missed.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

A pleasure to read. The descriptions of daily life in the titular town are beautiful, elliptical, and fascinating, from the fish markets near the beach to soju-drenched dinners in local bistros to a surreal glimpse of a museum on the DMZ. . . . A triumph.”Kirkus, starred review

Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin

$14.95Price
  • Open Letter 2021

    New paperback

    160 pages