What I love about Love in the Big City is just how much personality it has. The narrative voice comes through so strongly in this novel, and you can tell that almost immediately. This is not a story where you can really separate plot from character, because every element of Love in the Big City is suffused with the personality of its narrator. And that’s really the beginning and end of it when it comes to this book: whether you enjoy Love in the Big City or not is going to hinge on how well you get along with that narrator and their voice. Young is deeply flawed, as all good characters are, and this novel offers a space for him to grapple with those flaws and the ways they are sometimes amplified and sometimes highlighted by the circumstances of his life and the relationships he forms, and dissolves. And those relationships are so important because they form the scaffolding of Love in the Big City: each of this novel’s chapters focuses on a relationship, whether platonic or romantic, fleeting or lasting. I found it a really compelling way to structure a story, especially because it brings to light the many ways in which we understand our relationship to ourselves through our relationship with others.
Make no mistake, though: this is not a self-serious novel. Part of what makes it so enjoyable is that it doesn’t always take itself seriously. Young is an often sarcastic and snarky narrator, not afraid to trivialize or make fun of the things he should, presumably, approach with gravity. This is what makes him such a fun character, but also such a flawed one. His flippancy is what allows him to survive his circumstances, but also what holds him back from confronting them and, by extension, growing.
I really enjoyed this novel, if you couldn’t tell, and I can’t wait to see more of Sang Young Park’s work get translated into English.
Thanks so much to Grove Press for providing me with an e-ARC of this in exchange for an honest review!