A seductive, disorienting novel that manipulates the fragile line between dreams and reality, by South Korea’s leading contemporary writer
A startling and boundary-pushing novel, Untold Night and Day tells the story of a young woman’s journey through Seoul over the course of a night and a day. It’s 28-year-old Ayami’s final day at her box-office job in Seoul’s audio theater. Her night is spent walking the sweltering streets of the city with her former boss in search of Yeoni, their missing elderly friend, and her day is spent looking after a mysterious, visiting poet. Their conversations take in art, love, food, and the inaccessible country to the north.
Almost immediately, in the heat of Seoul at the height of the summer, order gives way to chaos as the edges of reality start to fray, with Ayami becoming an unwitting escort into a fever-dream of increasingly tangled threads, all the while images of the characters’ overlapping realities repeat, collide, change, and reassert themselves in this masterful work that upends the very structure of fiction and narrative storytelling and burns itself upon the soul of the reader.
By one of the boldest and most innovative voices in contemporary Korean literature, and brilliantly realized in English by International Man Booker–winning translator Deborah Smith, Bae Suah’s hypnotic and wholly original novel asks whether more than one version of ourselves can exist at once, demonstrating the malleable nature of reality as we know it.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A feeling of déjà vu pervades Bae Suah’s dreamlike novel, which is strange since it’s like nothing we’ve read before. The Korean author immerses us in the life of Ayami, a former actress searching for a lost friend in Seoul. We follow the book’s heroine over the course of 24 hours, as her seemingly straightforward quest turns into a hallucinatory and envelope-pushing experience. Bae shifts time, place, and reality in extraordinary ways, and no matter how otherworldly the story gets, her quiet and reflective novel remains spectacularly entertaining. When we reached the end, it felt like waking up from the kind of mind-altering dream that’s impossible to describe. Instead we’ll tell everyone we know to read this incredible novel. Untold Night and Day is short enough to read in a single sitting, but it will alter the way you look at the world for days.