Translated by: Kim Chi-young
Publisher: Pegasus, 2014.
Link to online store *
Fukuoka Prison, 1944. Beyond the prison walls, the war rages. Inside, a man is found brutally murdered. What follows is a searing portrait of Korea before their civil war, and a testimony to the redemptive power of poetry.
Watanabe Yuichi, a young guard with a passion for reading, is ordered to investigate a murder. The victim, Sugiyama, also a guard, was feared and despised throughout the prison and inquiries have barely begun when a powerful inmate confesses. But Watanabe is unconvinced; and as he interrogates both the suspect and Yun Dong-ju, a talented Korean poet, he starts to realize that the fearsome guard was not all he appeared to be…
As Watanabe unravels Sugiyama’s final months, he begins to discover what is really going on inside this dark and violent institution, which few inmates survive: a man who will stop at nothing to dig his way to freedom; a governor whose greed knows no bounds; a little girl whose kite finds an unlikely friend. And Yun Dong-ju—the poet whose works hold such beauty the can break the hardest of hearts.
As the war moves towards its devastating close and bombs rain down upon the prison, Watanabe realizes that he must find a way to protect Yun Dong-ju, no matter what it takes. As he digs further and further in to his investigation, the young guard discovers a devastating truth.
At once a captivating mystery and an epic lament for lost freedom and humanity, The Investigation, inspired by a true story, is a sweeping and gripping tale by an international literary star.
I really wish that I could like this book more, given the number of enthusiastic reviews written on Goodreads and Amazon. As a work which explores the transforming power of poetry it feels heavy-handed, and as a detective novel it feels strangely lightweight.
* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or Bookshop.org for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to Bookshop.org and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.