From the publisher’s website:
At nineteen, the idea that you have your whole life ahead of you with endless possibilities can leave you terrifyingly stiff. Throwing mobility to the wind, you dull yourself with booze. The grownups around you are stunted by their own failures so they act out—with alcohol, too, sometimes with violence. What was once the hope of youth quickly spirals into powerlessness and malaise as the days trickle by you. Ancco expertly renders the moment of suspension between the desire to grow up and the fear that accompanies it.
Autobiography blends with fiction in these coming-of-age stories about people reckoning with their place in their community and women coming to terms with other women. A boy living with HIV tries to decide how he’s going to tell his parents—or whether he should tell them at all. A mother puts pressure on her daughter to pass her exams, and the stress of it all drives them both to drink, fueling a toxic relationship with a lot of care just below the ugly surface. Another girl keeps getting bruises, but who’s inflicting the damage—herself or a loved one? And dogs—seemingly the only ones capable of unconditional love-—offer some reprieve.
Ancco delivers a cutting panorama of contemporary Korean society that’s much darker than one might expect, while also brimming with life and the vitality of youth.
Translated from Korean by Janet Hong, a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the 2018 TA First Translation Prize for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, which was also a finalist for both the 2018 PEN Translation Prize and the 2018 National Translation Award. She has translated Ha Seong-nan’s Flowers of Mold, Ancco’s Bad Friends, Keum-Suk Gendry Kim’s Grass, and Yeon-Sik Hong’s Umma’s Table.