Saturday, May 8, 2010

Book Nineteen - Tongue, a Novel

Kyung Ran Jo's novel Tongue is a poetic tale about a woman moving on with her life after her long term boyfriend leaves her for another woman. It is different from other similar stories that I have read. The protagonist is not outwardly angry at her former partner for the betrayal. It is almost as if she has something like Asperger's as she cannot seem to understand some social cues and seems only to be able to relate everything to food and doesn't understand that other people do not necessarily feel the same way as she.

After the relationship ends, Ji-won closes down the cooking school that she was running and goes back to work at the Italian restaurant in Korea that she left to open the school. It is understandable that by going back to work she could continue to live her life in a situation that has her feeling lost.

The descriptions of the food and the cooking practices in the restaurant transported me into the world of gourmet cooking in Korea. I felt something a bit magical in Ran Jo's writing and I wonder who did the translation and how they manage to translate books at all without losing the author's original voice. In this case I feel it was accomplished well, although I guess I can't say what it would have been like to read it in Korean.

The character of Ji-won is an unusual one and in the end everything all ties together in a very satisfying manner. There are some odd choices in the book as far as punctuations and random capitalization, but perhaps this is something to do with translation. Overall I would recommend reading this book, although it did make me hungry.

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