Love in the Big City is the English-language debut of Sang Young Park, one of Korea’s most exciting young writers. A runaway bestseller, the novel hit the top five lists of all the major bookstores and went into nine printings. Both award-winning for its unique literary voice and perspective, and particularly resonant with young readers, it has been a phenomenon in Korea and is poised to capture a worldwide readership.
Love in the Big City is an energetic, joyful, and moving novel that depicts both the glittering nighttime world of Seoul and the bleary-eyed morning-after. Young is a cynical yet fun-loving Korean student who pinballs from home to class to the beds of recent Tinder matches. He and Jaehee, his female best friend and roommate, frequent nearby bars where they push away their anxieties about their love lives, families, and money with rounds of soju and ice-cold Marlboro Reds that they keep in their freezer. Yet over time, even Jaehee leaves Young to settle down, leaving him alone to care for his ailing mother and to find companionship in his relationships with a series of men, including one whose handsomeness is matched by his coldness, and another who might end up being the great love of his life.
A brilliantly written novel filled with powerful sensory descriptions and both humor and emotion, Love in the Big City is an exploration of millennial loneliness as well as the joys of queer life, that should appeal to readers of Sayaka Murata, Han Kang, and Cho Nam-Joo.
Praise for Love in the Big City:
“A novel, told through relationships, about navigating life as a young gay man in Korea . . . The novel skips freely around in time, lending it a sense of propulsion and instability that feels entirely intentional. It’s anchored, however, by the narrator’s irresistible voice, which alternates between earnest, heartfelt emotion, and likable wryness . . . This book will sweep readers up in its sheer longing. An addictive, profound novel.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred reviews)
“Park’s stunning English-language debut takes readers through the wild highs and lows of young adulthood . . . The strength of the narrator, notably his flexibility of voice and expansiveness, caries the narrative to great heights, making this a standout among queer literature. Brilliant, glowing, and fun, Hur’s translation succeeds in bringing Park’s effervescent voice to English-reading audiences.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A lightly comical and insightful tale . . . Offers readers honest characterizations of flawed individuals from different walks of life who are all looking to find contentment regardless of their circumstances. Park’s writing is introspective and relatable, and the broad-ranging themes make this a good candidate for book group discussions.”—Library Journal
“A bestseller in Korea for being a significant (and rare!) gay novel, Park’s lost-love(s) narrative is also a universal literary beacon for readers of all backgrounds.”—Terry Hong, Booklist
“As Young grows, yearns, and makes messy mistakes, readers will find themselves rooting for him all the way until the brilliant end.”—The Millions (“Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2021 Book Preview”)
“A surprise bestseller in Korea, Sang Young Park’s electric English-language debut perfectly captures the neon-lit potential of youthful nights.”—Michelle Hart, Oprah Daily
“Sang Young Park is my new favorite writer, as in his work we see life in modern Korea in what I think of as a fuller way, due to the inclusion of queer lives there. This novel is bawdy, hilarious, heartbreaking, fearless.”—Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“Love in the Big City is a light-streaked and dazzling novel about all the messy riots of young life. This novel made me want to dance all night and fall in love. Sang Young Park writes honestly, tenderly, and with irresistible humor and charm. I miss his characters already.”—Brandon Taylor, Booker Prize-shortlisted author of Real Life
“I am completely smitten with Young, the brutally honest protagonist of Sang Young Park’s exciting new novel, Love in the Big City. This is a book that reveals its depths slowly, carefully offering details which resonate throughout the entire work. I loved growing older with Young, and I was continually surprised by his capacity for love and disappointment. This is rich, brilliant territory that will move queer literature forward.”—Garrard Conley, New York Times-bestselling author of Boy Erased
“I love this book. I couldn’t stop talking about it with my friends while I was reading it. My friends are smart, queer, long suffering, badly loved even when they are in relationships, economically oppressed, urban, have straight best friends, get fat, are overly attached to their mothers, nursed their dying mother, have lots of sex, have no sex. Got a job and hated it, got more education, met someone in class, are obsessed with that person even though they are not interested in my friend at all. This writer, Sang Young Park, is one of my friends and everyone wants to read this book. We’re happy, we’re suffering, the condition is global.”—Eileen Myles, author of Afterglow
“A wickedly funny and unforgettable meditation on love and loss and the struggle to feel and ultimately find ourselves, Love in the Big City is a delicious exploration of both the bitchiness and banalities of surviving modern life. Park has crafted one of the most fervent and entertaining novels I’ve read in a long time. I couldn’t put this book down.”—Nancy Jooyoun Kim, author of The Last Story of Mina Lee
“Sang Young Park’s sharp, funny picaresque follows Young, our charming hero, through his rakish college days and into his still-insouciant thirties, as he drifts through boyfriends, jobs, friends, and most of all, through Seoul. Among the many pleasures of this wonderful novel are Young’s running commentaries about work, class, sex, queer domestic life, contemporary Korean family dynamics, and the literary world he finds himself in. I’m obsessed with this book.”—Andrea Lawlor, author of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
“How could a story be as intense as this, as fresh as this? Page after page, we discover contradictory emotions that are both surprising and beautiful. I was so eager to read on that my fingers turned each new page before I’d finished the last. I hope he writes another novel that inspires such hard and fast intimacy.”—Kyung-Sook Shin, author of Please Look After Mom
“Sang Young Park’s English-language debut about a young gay man in Seoul is devastating, but in the warmest way possible. Throughout the four sections of the book, you can’t help but wish for happiness for Young as he’s growing and yearning. He’s messy, intelligent, and relatable, and Love in the Big City feels like a story being shared with a close confidant. Although Park’s been likened to Han Kang and Nam-Joo Cho, he’s really his own voice, and we can only hope to have more writers compared to him in the future.”—Elaine Cho, Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle, WA)
“A leading author of Korean queer literature and the hottest name of the moment.”—The Hankyoreh
“I cried when I got to the end. As cliched as it sounds, reading this book made me feel that ‘this summer night, this big city, because of you’ I could believe in love again.”—Brunch.co.kr
“Love in the Big City is a compelling novel that deserves to be widely read. It expands our expectations and assumptions about what contemporary Korean literature is and can be.”—Yoo Jun, Professor of Korean Literature at Yonsei University