Sunday 18 September 2022

Book Review: I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Kim Young-Ha

Title: I Have the Right to Destroy Myself
Author: Kim Young-ha
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publication Date: 2007 (1995)
Pages: 119
Format: Paperback
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Bought Copy

I don't encourage murder. I have no interest in one person killing another. I only want to draw out morbid desires, imprisoned deep in the unconscious. This lust, once freed, starts growing. Their imaginations run free, and they soon discover their potential... They are waiting for someone like me.

A spectral, nameless narrator haunts the lost and wounded of big-city Seoul, suggesting solace in suicide. Wandering through the bright lights of their high-urban existence, C and K are brothers who fall in love with the same woman - Se-yeon. As their lives intersect, they tear at each other in a struggle to find connection in their fast-paced, atomized world.

Dreamlike and cinematic,
I Have the Right to Destroy Myself brilliantly affirms Young-ha Kim as Korea's leading young literary master.


Having enjoyed a previous work by Kim Young-ha, I was interested to give I Have the Right to Destroy Myself a read. The idea of the book captivated me from the get-go, and the story proceeded a fascinating way. This is not going to be for everyone with its strong focus of suicide and sex, but I found it intriguing. It's not a book with a clear beginning, middle and end. Rather, we weave through the tale in, as the blurb states, a "dreamlike and cinematic" manner. It's meditative and contemplative on the one hand, graphic on the other. I think it's a book I would take something different away from each time I re-read it, and I am giving it 4.5 stars.

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