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    Title: Memoir of a Murderer

    Author: Kim Young-ha

    Genre: Literature / Novel

     

    LTI Korea staff: Alex Baek (alex_b@klti.or.kr / +82-2-6919-7733)

Description

  • About the book

    It was 25 years ago that he killed his last. Underneath the bamboo trees that fill the mountainous land he owns are decades-old corpses. Eunhee, his stepdaughter, had belonged to his last victim. This retired serial killer is about to resume his career. There has been a serial killing in his village and a stranger driving a jeep is eyeing Eunhee. Can an old serial killer save his stepdaughter from a new one?

     

    Kim Young-ha’s Memoir of a Murderer brings to mind the author’s bestseller, I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, a novella through which Kim introduced a new face to Korean fiction: a character who helps clients with their suicide. The Memoir of a Murderer is also based on a record of someone who presides over death, beginning its pages with the protagonist’s proud recollection of past achievements. His poem, “Knife and Bones” is literally that and not a metaphor. 

     

    Only, Kim quickly asks, “Who is it that presides over death?” When readers discover that the ex-serial killer is now an Alzheimer’s patient, it is the seventy-year-old fighting a battle with memory that overtakes the story. Like the fragments of his memory, chapters of Memoir of a Murderer come to the reader short and broken, leading to an end where Kim plunges readers down into chaos by turning the story on its head. The shaky fort built up with bits of memories is swallowed up into a chaotic mix of oblivion and delusion, leaving not a trace as it races to a grand finale.

     

    While a story about such a sorry serial killer is rare, so is one about such an introspective serial killer. What makes him so small? The author who has been pessimistic about humans from its history to all things in existence is about to put himself up on the stage of doubt. Ostentatious as the serial killer who quotes Nietzsche may seem, Kim also mixes in irony and humor in his fast-paced sequence of sentences. This is a novel that best resembles its author, Kim Young-ha.   

    About the author

    Kim Young-ha began his literary career with the publication of “A Meditation on Mirror” in the literary journal Review in 1995. His works include novels Black Flower, Your Republic is Calling You, The Quiz Show, I have the Right to Destroy Myself, and Why Did Arang, as well as collections of short stories Nobody Knows What Happened, Brother has Returned, What Happened to the Man Caught in the Elevator Door?, and Summoning. He has also translated The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald into Korean. Kim’s extensive list of awards includes the prestigious Dong-in Literature Award. Readers in more than 10 countries including the U.S. France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey have had the pleasure of reading Kim’s works in their language. The podcast Kim Young-ha’s Time to Read has been running from 2010 and has maintained steady popularity among Korean listeners since. 

    Media Response/Awards Received

    No. 1 Bestseller in Fiction category in first week of publication

    Book of the Year 2013 by The Dong-a Ilbo

    Film adaptation release in 2017

     

    Readers of this novel beware.

    - The Hankyoreh

     

    Quotes by Nietzsche and Montaigne mixed with unpredictable cynical humor tell a profound story about life and death, and time and evil.

    - The Seoul Shinmun

     

    This is a well-crafted memoir of the scariest, an evil joke thrown by a life in which no one can win. A horrific joke made of two layers of nightmares and two layers of captivity, the Memoir of a Murderer is a gift Kim sends our way with a devilish smile.

    - Kwon Hee-chul, literary critic

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