BOOK REVIEW: ONE HUNDRED SHADOWS by HWANG JUNGEUN (tr. Jung Yewon)


One Hundred Shadows

β€œSo then what happens?
The parents of the boy Mujae probably get into
debt.
Probably?
Or inevitably, you could say.
How is it inevitable to get into debt?
Is it possible to live otherwise?
”

A chilling story told in spare, incisive writing, One Hundred Shadows is the kind of novel that begs to be deciphered but that is not itself easy to decipher; a compact story that comes with an undertow of darkness, one that Jungeun draws out in her measured and skillfully controlled way. I love novels like this, novels that feel discombobulating and slightly off-kilter. They initially read as weird, but then their weirdness unsettles you, asks you to try to put your finger on what’s so unsettling to begin with. I just know I’ll be mulling over this potent little book for the next few weeks, trying to unravel the world that Hwang Jungeun has so deftly created here.

Addendum: I initially gave this novel 4 stars, but then I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I bumped it up to 5 stars. Hwang Jungeun’s writing is just haunting in the best way possible.


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