Published: 7 October 2021
Author: Kwon Yeo-sun, Translated by Janet Hong
Published by: Head of Zeus
Genre: Literary Crime
Length: 176 pages
Reading dates: 2-5 October 2021
In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.
Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.
Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates, Lemon is a piercing psychological portrait that takes the shape of a crime novel and is a must-read novel of 2021.
A literary crime novel, Lemon was a really interesting read. Set in Korea and told from the point of view of three characters, chronologically following on from the murder of 19 year old girl Kim Hae-on in 2002. Two boys were under suspicion but neither were ever charged with her murder.
We hear from Da-on, Kim Hae-on’s younger sister who has struggled to move on after the death of her sister, becoming obsessed especially with one of the suspects Han Manu. We also hear from a classmate who had recently joined the school at the time of the murder and we see Da-on through her eyes as she meets her on a couple of occasions. And we hear from another narrator, through one sided conversations with a doctor who talks about the murder, her marriage to Shin Jeongjun and the abduction of her baby.
This was a really unusual format in which to tell a story, thankfully the fact it was told in chronological order made it easy to follow the timeline. The different narrations are clever in telling us what happened and I especially liked the chapters by the classmate who gave us an insight into Dae-on’s state of mind after her sister’s murder. The chapters from the school friend of Hae-on were unsettling to say the least. I was left with a few questions at the end so if you like your reading experience to be tinged with a touch of uncertainty then this is for you. A short book, which also looks at class and gender in Korea, I’d highly recommend this if you want to try something a little different!
Many thanks to Jade at Head of Zeus for the proof copy and goodies and for inviting me on the blog tour. You can check out the other bloggers who are shouting about this book below
About the author
About the author: Kwon Yeo-sun is an award-winning Korean writer. She has won the Sangsang Literary Award, Oh Yeongsu Literature Award, Yi Sang Literary Prize, Hankook Ilbo Literary Award, Tong-ni Literature Prize and Lee Hyo-seok Literary Award. Lemon is her first novel to be published in the English language.
About the translator: Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the TA First Translation Prize and the LTI Korea Translation Award 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 National Translation Award. Her recent translations include Ha Seong-nan’s Bluebeard’s First Wife, Ancco’s Nineteen, and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass.
Amazon UK: https://bit.ly/3mw4AXa