Read The Interpreter by Suki Kim Online

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Suzy Park is a twenty-nine-year-old Korean American interpreter for the New York City court system who makes a startling and ominous discovery about her family history that will send her on a chilling quest. Five years prior, her parents--hardworking greengrocers who forfeited personal happiness for their children's gain--were brutally murdered in an apparent robbery of thSuzy Park is a twenty-nine-year-old Korean American interpreter for the New York City court system who makes a startling and ominous discovery about her family history that will send her on a chilling quest. Five years prior, her parents--hardworking greengrocers who forfeited personal happiness for their children's gain--were brutally murdered in an apparent robbery of their store. But the glint of a new lead entices Suzy into the dangerous Korean underworld, and ultimately reveals the mystery of her parents' homicide....

Title : The Interpreter
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312422240
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Interpreter Reviews

  • Eve
    2018-09-22 20:56

    "Being bilingual, being multicultural should have brought two worlds into one heart, and yet for Suzy, it meant a persistent hollowness. It seems that she needed to love one culture to be able to love the other. Piling up cultural references led to no further identification.”Suzy Park lives a compartmentalized, ghostlike life in her unfurnished Manhattan apartment. With no family to speak of, few friends and unhealthy relationships with unavailable men, Suzy finds comfort in her anonymous life as a Korean interpreter. Part of the “1.5 Generation”, Suzy reminisces about the difficulties she and her family had assimilating to life in New York upon arriving from Korea. Not allowed to forget the customs of a country she barely remembers, but never feeling American enough, Kim masterfully conveys the isolation and loneliness that confronts Suzy–this special group of adolescents and adults.On the fifth anniversary of her parents’ mysterious death, Suzy receives an ominous gift, followed by a series of unsettling coincidences. Her quest to find answers to long forgotten questions leads her to old neighborhoods and haunts from her youth. Along the way, she is thrown back into memories she’s been trying to escape for the last ten years. Did she really ever know her parents? Why hasn’t she grieved their deaths? Is she capable of love?I was so taken by Suzy’s loneliness and grief. Kim’s prose is so vivid that I can feel the protagonist’s heaviness weigh on my shoulders. Try this sentence on for size and see what I mean:“Nothing is as desolate as a late-autumn beach. The motels with “Vacancy” signs wear the dejected face of the abandoned. The fish-and-chips stands have pulled down their shutters, closed for the winter. Fickle and selfish, the rest of the world has skipped out.”Immigrant life is not an easy life, and I loved the way Kim eased me into Korean communities in Queens and Brooklyn. It was like virtual traveling! The mystery aspect of this novel kept me turning pages, but Kim’s prose was also outstanding. Many a time I found myself thinking how well crafted her analogies were. For example, Suzy is a Literature major in college, and I relished her bookish conversations with her friend about Nabokov and other authors, and the linear ties to artists like Van Gogh while conversing with her Art major roommate. It’s the details that just really tie this book up in a neat little bundle. Excellent read, and highly recommended. I’m looking forward to reading her memoir, Without You There Is No Us.

  • Ava
    2018-10-17 22:26

    Who are interpreters? Those who convey the meaning of what is said in one language in another? Or those who interpret one way of life to another?Suzy Park makes a living as an interpreter. Her job is to translate the questions that the lawyer asks Korean people who are not conversant in English and also interpret their replies. Interpreting comes naturally to her. She spent her life doing it. Her parents could speak only Korean and she and her older sister Grace habitually translated to and fro for them.Until she left home, kicked out by her father when he found out that she was sleeping with a married man. Some years after this, her father and mother were killed in their store, shot through the heart. Suzy goes into a tailspin. She is heartbroken that she never got a chance to make up with her parents. What's more, her sister Grace has cut off all ties with her. She flounders through life until one day she chances upon a man who mentions her parents during his deposition. There is more to the murder of her parents than meets the eye. Only a person who knows the nuances of the way a Korean thinks can solve this tangled mess. In the process we get to see the messy underbelly of illegal immigrants, caught in a corner, working hard but never really making it. Some fall into depression and some turn to unsavory acts to survive.While the first generation of immigrants is trying to make ends meet and survive in a country where everything is alien to them, the children have a task of their own. Part of them wants to blend in to the American culture, part of them wants to stay true to their own culture. They are forever at odds with their own selves.How fast you go though a novel depends on how interesting you find it. I was barely able to put down the book. (My kindle actually.) I am still a little panda-eyed from having stayed up to finish the book.The book starts slow and you wonder why the protagonist, Suzy, is so full of angst. Soon we are in thick of things. Even though the book is about murder and the mystery surrounding it, it cannot be called a thriller.It can be called a noir psychological murder mystery which has to be solved, not so much by chasing after things, as by interpreting the events that have taken place in the past."The interpreter, however, is the shadow. The key is to be invisible. She is the only one in the room who hears the truth, a keeper of secrets."

  • Sabrina
    2018-10-06 23:47

    A multi-layered mystery and character study. Suzy is a nuanced character, haunted by the deaths of her parents, the poor choices she has made in the past, and her lack of personal identity. Torn between her parents' Korean culture and the American culture that surrounds her, Suzy clearly wants something to define her. She wants to belong somewhere but doesn't know how. The plot of this novel is a mystery, and a satisfying one, too, but for me, this is really a great exploration of a character "stuck in a vacuum where neither culture moved nor owned her," trying to cope with loss and depression.The only thing lacking nuance in this story is Suzy's gay roommate, who felt one-dimensional and unfortunately based in stereotype. It's all the more glaring to me because of how much care Suki Kim seemed to have put into the crafting of the rest of her characters and story. His appearances are brief, but he could have been much better.

  • Owen
    2018-10-01 22:31

    I don't read too many books by Korean/Korean-American writers, but I'm starting to think I should because I've had really good experiences with most of the Korean authors I have read. And The Interpreter is no exception. I had never even heard of it until seeing it on the library shelf, but after picking it up and giving it a try (as well as flying through it in only a few hours), I can say that it is one of the best books I have read so far this year and quite possibly one of the best mystery novels I have ever read.It was exactly what I was looking for. The right blend of family drama, intrigue, bleak existences, and a bit of violence. The writing was dark but in an effortless way, which I really appreciate, and the whole novel just flowed so easily.The Interpreter is about a woman named Suzy Park who is a Korean interpreter for the New York legal system. About ten years ago, her parents were killed in an apparent robbery of their fruit and vegetable story. Since then, Suzy and her sister Grace had been on their own, and the two women didn't talk to each other due to the family issues caused by Suzy being the mistress of two white men. At the beginning of the novel, Grace appears to be elusive and living a simple, quiet life, but after surreptitiously questioning a witness during a court hearing, Suzy learns that there may be a darker side to her deceased parents and distant sister. She begins navigating the complex social structure of the Korean American community in New York, and soon realizes that her family had more enemies than she ever would have thought. As the reader starts to unravel the mystery of the double homicide, Suzy is nearing end of her quest to discover who shattered her family apart. The conclusion is unexpected and the slightly ambiguous ending will add to the suspense of the story.It is unfortunate that Kim has not written more books, because she really is an underrated, unknown author with a lot of talent. I believe later this year she will be releasing a non-fiction account of North Korean students, which sounds fascinating and I am eagerly anticipating it, but I also hope she writes more fiction because I don't want to wait another 11 years for another book .To be honest, I have no idea what I would compare this novel to, not even a movie or anything. I know I say a lot of books are original (when sometimes they might not be, because I've only read so many books) and I hate when publishers try to sell their books as incredibly similar to other, usually popular, books ("If you liked The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, the Bible, Breaking Bad, and anything else that was successful in popularity and revenue, then you will love this knockoff of all of those from an author who only reads one genre." But I know I have basically no knowledge of Korean culture and literature. The extent of my knowledge is about a few years of Taekwondo, when my Grandmaster would tell us some stories of living in Korea. Kind of like how my Chinese teacher tells us stories about how they celebrate holidays in China and things like that, but I would never be able to understand what it is like being from one of those countries and assimilating into a community of immigrants who form a new society that could be inviting, or in the case of Suzy, not so inviting. A reviewer of this novel says Kim "fractures the image of the happy Asian immigrant"; I'm not naïve enough to think that all immigrants are happy and suddenly are given opportunity and freedom from their troubles once they come to America (probably the opposite in most cases), but I believe The Interpreter is one of the best examples you will find of what it is like for those people that face more hardships after immigrating.

  • Kkraemer
    2018-10-10 18:44

    Suzy is gorgeous. She wears the clothes bought by another woman's husband, the face of a scholar that didn't finish, the superiority of entitlement. She smokes. She is the main character, and she is despicable in irritating ways.Not surprisingly, she is alone.And her aloneness is a main character in this book. After introducing Suzy, things happen: they begin slowly and unwind step by step to reveal Suzy and her loneliness, her overwhelming sense of loss, and the mystery that must be solved. The story takes us through New York, elite schools, Korean markets, Korean culture, immigrants' lives, doubt, betrayal, and such loneliness that it aches even after the book ends.Kim is, quite simply, an amazing writer. Her spare prose reflects spare existences in ways that make the reader long for something...anything...that is blossomy and pretty and lovely. This is one of the best books I've read in a long, long time.

  • Lenore Beadsman64
    2018-09-19 16:55

    tradurre non sempre vuol dire comprendereSuzy è una coreana trasferita con la sua famiglia a NY, i genitori vengono uccisi con due colpi di pistola nel loro negozio di frutta e verdura e lei, che non ci parlava già da tempo per via del fatto che l'avevano ripudiata a causa della sua storia scandalosa con un uomo sposato, si mette sulle tracce lasciate cadere dalla polizia la quale, a quanto pare, non ha nessuna voglia di indagare su un duplice omicidio di lavoratori emigrati...ma lei è un'interprete e quel che non hanno detto ai poliziotti gli altri coreani del ghetto sono abbastanza disposti a dirlo a lei...poi c'è anche Grace, la sorella perfetta, che invece sapeva già e non ha mai detto nulla...thriller senza grosse pretese sullo sfondo del ghetto coreano di NY, la caratterizzazione culturale è buona ma non approfondita del tutto, è una storia che sarebbe potuta accadere anche a un qualsiasi altro immigrato negli Usa che cerca di farsi una vita lontano dalle sue radici...la storia in sè è semplice e credibile, ma non indelebile...

  • Victoria
    2018-10-03 16:42

    This book was a great exploration of what it means to be in between countries, to be lost in the gap of your parent's country and the one you live in. The pressures of immigrant life and how it effects the children of immigrants is not a uniquely Korean topic, but Suki Kim nuances her story to give a clear and moving picture of the Korean American Experience.I really enjoyed this book and could barely put it down.

  • Sarah Emily
    2018-10-07 23:53

    confession: I like books that have unhappy characters or situations when the author doesn't try to either deny the sadness or fix it too prettily. The Interpreter combines the plot of a mystery with the lethargy of depression. that may not sound like a good thing, but it's refreshing and real and well paced.

  • Laura Barmby
    2018-10-01 18:31

    Hard to like this book for me because I didn't like the character very much. It was interesting learning something about the Korean immigrant culture but I didn't really care so much what happened to the character's parents because I didn't like her. The book just ends with a somewhat suspenseful incomplete story and while at first that was annoying, I found that I got over it quickly because I didn't ultimately care. I realize that the way she is was related to her upbringing but so what, she has made some stupid and self centered choices as an adult and I didn't really need to see if she resolved her issues.

  • Maya Kulkarni
    2018-09-26 21:33

    One of my all time favorites. Chilling and dark.

  • Jan Priddy
    2018-10-03 23:48

    I loved this novel. Within the first chapter or two, I was captivated. I cannot tell you what did it for me. I did not initially even like the main character of this mystery: Suzy Park, a 29 year old interpreter who came to the US as a child and cannot seem to find a life because she cannot make sense of where and who she comes from. Perversely, she is not "nice." She is talented and attractive, though not so much as her estranged sister Grace. Someone has sent her white irises each year on the anniversary of her parents' death. But recently there are other arrivals—police wanting to talk to her, hang-up calls, and her sister . . . How she meets the man in her life: "The Korean side brought their own translator, but Michael's firm hired Suzy as a back-up. It was one of Suzy's first interpreting jobs, and she masked her nervousness with cool detachment. During the lunch break, Michael turned to her and asked, 'Miss Park, are you allowed to smile on duty?' " I'm sorry it's not a brilliant passage dripping literary eloquence. What these sentences offer is reality. What it offers is a woman willing to accept what is offered. I like Eve's choice of quotation from another review here: "Being bilingual, being multicultural should have brought two worlds into one heart, and yet for Suzy, it meant a persistent hollowness. It seems that she needed to love one culture to be able to love the other. Piling up cultural references led to no further identification.”And that is the key. This is very much a character-driven mystery. Revelations about events do not overwhelm revelations about character. What I understood about the people in the story was what caught me, but it is true I love a good mystery. It is just that very few mysteries are this well written. I think it is easy to forget that there IS a mystery. I did not even think of it that way until I was past the middle of the book. I was briefly thrown out of the story by the first person narrator's detailed explanation, such as of Korean immigrants and of the role of interpreters, but while my mind stepped away from the story to think about what I had learned, I did not mind. The quick detours into exposition were *interesting*! There is no doubt I believed her. I trusted her because her story made sense to me, and I cared how it would turn out. The novel also made me feel I was in New York City, with an intimacy and detail concerning various areas that I have never experienced before. Suzy takes trains and she tells us where and when and how long the journeys take. She reminds us that most New Yorkers do not have cars because they don't need them. I know this, or at least I have been told this many times. But as she negotiates a broad landscape, I understood that claim for the first time. So. People. Places. Family drama. Korean culture. And a bit of a mystery. It's all good.

  • Anasylvia
    2018-09-26 18:35

    Although the main character's life and mine are completely different as are our cultures and families, there are some things that may be universal, such as being the daughter of immigrant parents in U.S. I could feel Suzy's indecision and frank loneliness, and her tangle longing for community. To find what suited her, as opposed to what was expected by her culture and parents. Straddling two worlds is a fight in and of itself. Also, a really eye-opening glimpse into the Korean immigrant experience, and the writing was so lush. I could easily have read 100 pages more.

  • S.
    2018-09-29 19:31

    edgier than Min Sook whatever's Free Food for Millionaires, Suki Kim's 2003 Interpreter makes no excuses for her post-college doldrums and her characters engage in more illicit sex without compunction. this is a Barnard girl! New York creates more gotham-y people than Harrrvard, a cooler and more streetwise sensibility. Kim's prose has the advantage of a more jaded and 'cooler' tone, resulting even in the first page in some neat prose. the thing flows. it has twists.high 3/5, near 4. like many NY ethnic writers, Kim is fascinated by the minutiae of the Immigrant Experience, but whereas Oscar Wao broadens this out to post-modern word games and a true universal appeal (and hence bestseller status), Kim delivers straight fiction leavened only with some daring in stance and word choice. it's annoying that the 'ethnic writer' does not "get it" that majority writers are not 'celebrating' dominant culture. David Mitchell is not celebrating England or Englishishism (per intent). he is telling us a story, and somewhere along the line, purely unintentionally, the greater complexity/superiority of anglo-saxon culture is demonstrated, without any attempt or desire to do so. he is, furthermore, experimenting with form, with voice, with story-telling technique. the beat-up ethnic (particularly the Korean) is "responding back" to West culture with a sort of "I can be tough too" creation, but they're just delivering straight narrative, not seeing that they're missing the opportunity to elicit a new literature, a new consciousness, or a new literary breakthrough. there's no post-modernism here. there's no Dissociation Identity Disorder mind-screw. there's no Vonnegut iconclasm or Atwood slipstream creativity. it's just 3pm on a rainy sunday in montauk over and over again. korean fiction also heavily marked by "small store/ dry cleaner / fruit stand" perspective. Chang Rae Lee remains the only KA author to have successfully integrated this into a bigger than life novel. and unlike, say, 'invisible man,' there is no larger grasp of america. just another latte. just another montauk.Suki Kim is still a leap skip and a jump ahead of free food for millionaires, but this is a passable work, and unnecessary for any but a specialist audience. near 4. does not have a stunner close. some notable skill in even the first page, 'neat' prose; 'edgy' prose, smart things done here and there. but Native Speaker still the benchmark here, and to some degree this book is a repetition. not an incompetent story-teller, but doesn't quite deserve the 4, and doesn't get deep into the skin of the reader.

  • Gaisce
    2018-09-29 21:49

    The synopsis of a Korean American woman who accidentally stumbles on the mystery of her parents murder five years ago really does not accurately describe The Interpreter. Ironic in a way, because the novel is all about how expectations can be fraught with mistakes and there are things whose meaning are always out of comprehension's grasp.The good is that Suki Kim has wonderful scenes and turns of phrases. There's a melancholy tone throughout that aches and you really do get into the skin and sadness that inhabits Suzy Park. The scene of the last deposition is really the emotional payoff of the novel, with Suzy as the witness but finally understanding the interplay of what goes on. It is the perfect blend of emotion, symbolism and character development.The bad is that it drags. The more compelling story of how Suzy deals with her troubled relationships regarding her parents and especially he sister are often overshadowed by retreading of her romances with older, married men. In fact, it takes more than half the novel for Suzy to actually even begin to examine the evidence that her parents' murder was more than it seemed, opting instead to meander through Suzy's romantic complications and hang ups. Meanwhile, the actual plot of the whodunnit is sparse, padded out and largely held up by the uncommunicative nature of the participants.The Interpreter at its most effective is a study of culture and loneliness seen through the fractured set up of a person who was orphaned literally and figuratively by her family's behavior. The plot is more a frame that allows Kim to segue from one scene to the other, and the best parts come as observations rather than a culmination of the other elements. Best read in moody introspective moments, but people who want tightly paced stories with proactive motion should find something else.

  • Sara
    2018-10-12 18:51

    I can understand how this book gained critical attention -- its particular lens on the immigrant experience in America is entirely free of cliche. When you look at the back cover and read that it is about a daughter of Korean immigrants in New York City, you'll have all kinds of vague ideas of what an author will inevitably do with that scenario, but Kim will not do any of those things that you expect. So -- much respect to her for that.However, I can also understand how this book winds up with only mediocre reviews on goodreads. It can't exactly make up its mind whether it wants to be a lyrical meditation on the radical ungroundedness of being the child of an immigrant, or whether it wants to be a gripping murder mystery. And while I admire its ambition for trying to combine the two, it really doesn't pull it off very well. If you're going to pick up this book, I advise approaching it more as a dreamy lyrical meditation on the experience of immigration than as a mystery novel. It just doesn't do plausibility very well. Or even exposition. And I couldn't figure out if the dialogue was so very non-mimetic on purpose (perhaps the author trying to say something about the unreliability of the act of interpreting other people's words?) or whether it was just the product of a first-book author who wasn't really very good at writing dialogue.I suspect another reason to read it is its obsessively detailed attention to NYC and associated boroughs' geography. Never does its heroine make a move without the narrator chiming in to tell you exactly what block of Morningside Ave she's on. I'm not convinced that served the coherence of the book, but I can see that providing real enjoyment for those familiar with the area.

  • Valerie
    2018-10-05 17:54

    "Nabokov... If he hated America so much, does that mean that he loves Russia?" " I don't believe he did. I don't believe he was capable of that kind of love or hate for the country. He was too selfish. You can see that in his writing. He picked each word as though entire life was at stake. He was notorious for jotting down every thought on three-by-five index cards. His life was a string of exile, from England to Germany to France to America to Switzerland. It was right after renouncing Russian that he threw this verbal masturbation of a novel called Lolita at the American public. Here's this Russian guy who's only been living in U.S for a decade or so, tripping on English prose like Faulkner on acid! Russia versus America would've been to simple for Nabokov. If he'd beet tortured, which I believe he was, then it was about something less obvious. The Cold War might have contributed, but his oddness, that something which doesn't quite add up about him, goes way deeper. No, I'm not talking about the sexual perversity of his book, which is hardly relevant, but something else, the neatness, the systematic design of his life, like those index cards. Did you know that he lived exactly twenty years on each continent? Twenty years in Russia, twenty in Western Europe, twenty in America, before his final attempt in the neutral Switzerland, where he ended up dying on his seventeenth year? If he had lived, would he have moved again once he filled his twenty-year quota? Where would he have gone?"

  • Isabella Diocson
    2018-09-22 16:46

    A story of an unsolved death haunting the daughters who were left behind, told in the perspective of one of the daughters, Suzy, who had been estranged from her family for years prior to the murder of her parents. Also abandoned and deliberately forgotten by her sister who was her only known relative, she was left to find the answers on her own. Although this story wasn't outstanding and brilliant, it had a haunting and gripping quality which will take the reader back to the very core of their being and leave them thinking deeper of their identity (cultural-wise). Korean daughters whose family migrated to America in pursuit of the American dream. With both cultural aspects ingrained in them without the feeling of belonging to a single culture, we get a glimpse of the decisions they make and the life they chose in regards with this huge gap of cultural identity. Although we neglect it, this book takes us back to the fundamental realization that culture and family background can have a crucial effect on how we decide and act upon our lives.

  • Cornelia
    2018-10-11 20:39

    I found this book really gripping. The mystery didn't get going right away (and once it did, it was stunning), but the protagonist just drew me in and I wanted to know everything there was to know about her life. Something about her imperfections and complexities, the way she half-existed in so many worlds, really grabbed me, made me feel for her. I loved the glimpses into the Korean immigrant experience (so different, yet in many ways so similar to my own and I imagine the wider immigrant experience). I liked that none of the characters were wholly likable, wholly redeemable, yet they were for the most part still sympathetic (kind of like the characters in Gillian Flynn novels). I also enjoyed and admired the writing style, and the skillful way in which Kim weaved between past and present, visceral experience and dreamlike memory, as well as how measured and unsentimental the language was.

  • Kathleen Perkins
    2018-10-03 22:28

    Suki Kim is an amazing writer. The Interpreter tells the story of a young Asian American woman trying to find crumbs from her dysfunctional childhood that would validate her existence. The protagonists journey was full of pain and sorrow, and hard for me to read, but well worth the journey. I so wanted her to find the truth about what happened to her parents, and where her estranged sister had gone. Her profound aloneness, and struggle to find herself, was palpable. As a Caucasian, it hurt my heart knowing how cruel America can be toward immigrants. The brilliance of using the interpreter to tell these story cannot be understated.

  • Staarked
    2018-10-13 21:54

    I can absolutely not understand why this has a relatively low rating. It was haunting and beautiful and explored themes of 'belonging' or rather the lack of it. The voice, the prose, the tragedy of it all echoed deeply in me and it's perhaps the quality of the book that gave me an intense sort of heartache. The kind which makes you sad with no discernible reason.It's a powerful piece of fiction and I would recommend it easily to anyone and everyone.

  • Bora Hah
    2018-10-19 00:49

    Read it three times in a row during this summer, but still addicted to discover more. Beautiful choice of words & captivating story that taught me for the first time how mesmerizing a murder mystery can be. But then, it's just much more than a murder mystery at the same time.

  • Powersamurai
    2018-10-14 20:43

    This only got 4 stars for the ending. Otherwise I would've given it 3. It starts off with the protagonist wallowing in her misery and it continues with the protagonist wallowing in her misery. We find out a lot of her back story in the meantime, but the story seems to be going nowhere. Then 2/3rds of the way when you're about to give up, the pace picks up. The last dozens of pages are racing. Then it ends, like you just ran into a brick wall. I finished it 3 hours ago and my mind is still racing with the implications of what happened and what possibly the protagonist does next. I think this will stick with me for a few days yet.

  • Autumn Futch
    2018-10-04 00:52

    Kim explores the line between being American and being an immigrant. That line is sometimes a mile wide and other times very fine. Her protagonist is almost difficult to root for, but that's what makes her human; she's a complex, lonely, bitter woman seeking answers to questions she didn't know existed. The story does take a while to pick up -- nearly halfway through the novel before you realize there's a true mystery and Suzy is hellbent on solving it. By the end though, you realize it's not just a story of immigration; this is a story that surpasses heritage. It's a story about family.

  • Fred Daly
    2018-10-12 18:32

    I enjoyed the first three quarters of this a lot -- it has quite a bit to say about the lives of Koreans in NYC. I also liked the protagonist. Toward the end it became more or less a conventional mystery, but I was less interested in that part than in the culture-within-a-culture part. The scene when she's supposed to be translating but is actually doing something else is one of the best I've ever read.

  • Lucy
    2018-10-18 19:27

    It’s interesting to read this book about the Korean experience in the US shortly after reading Pachinko, a book about the Korean experience in Japan. Neither experience was all that great; being an immigrant is tough in any situation.

  • Cass
    2018-09-24 19:51

    Good! I never guessed...

  • Tonstant Weader
    2018-09-26 21:32

    The Interpreter is an ambitious novel by Suki Kim, a mystery about family, immigration, and alienation. Suzy Park is a young woman about to turn thirty who is haunted by the death of her parents. They were murdered five years earlier and their murder was never solved. The first half of the novel is languorous and depressive, filled with the ennui that holds Suzy in a kind of stasis, forever in relationships with men who are married and who will never place her first, drifting from job to job, never finishing her degree after quitting in her final semester. She spends a lot of her time sleeping and walking around New York City, her mind unspooling the past.She is estranged from her only living relative, her sister Grace. She is filled with guilt that she disappointed her parents who disowned her and never made an effort to heal that breach before they died. The police finally have a clue and want her to come in and answer questions but she has no answers for them.The pace quickens about midway through the book when by coincidence, a translating job for a deposition involves someone who worked for her parents. When the lawyer repeats questions, she questions him about her parents and discovers they were disliked in the community. It does not surprise her. Should she feel shame that she thinks that if people wanted them dead, it was probably their doing? Where is her sister?There are many fascinating ideas in The Interpreter, but it is such hard work to get to them. The story is slow, it moves forward as in a fugue, just like Suzy. It is so foggy at the beginning that I had to force myself to keep reading even though Kim has interesting things to say about immigration and belonging. Suzy is trapped, feeling neither American nor Korean, “stuck in a vacuum where neither culture moved nor owned her.” This is far more interesting than the mystery which Suzy pursues haphazardly. There is no logic in her search, just glimmers of memory that propel her to question different people.She learns her parents were not what she thought they were. She learns her sister was a better sister than she ever imagined her to be. The pace picks up toward the end and then races to a conclusion, perhaps faster than it should. The mystery is “solved” but what about Suzy and Grace? The ending is slightly ambiguous, as it should be. The entire book is about ambiguity in memory, in identity, in everything.★★★http://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpres...

  • Sara
    2018-10-12 23:55

    This book falls under the category of why I don't like to read adult fiction. It can be very meandering and the main character is searching for the meaning of life, or has long poetic inner monologues about everything/anything. Suzy was a damp rag of a narrator/person and it was really hard to connect with her constant state of numbness/emotionlessness.My other beef is that the mystery/crime didn't really pick up until the latter half of the book. The books description made it seem like this was going to be the main thrust of the book, but really it was more of a character study of this extremely broken immigrant family, with the added grief of the parents having been murdered, the crime unsolved.The writing was fine, but it did not grip me, which is fine. But the book's slowness was the main problem for me, as I just really struggle with slow placed novels. I would recommend it, though, to those that appreciate more thoughtful, cerebral novels. It's certainly a good book, just not my cup of tea.

  • Chajka
    2018-10-18 00:40

    (mild spoilers)"She is the only one in the room who hears the truth, a keeper of secrets." This is one of the opening thoughts of the protagonist, Suzy Park, on interpreting. The interpreter is normally considered an invisible conveyer of information between two languages. Suzy, however, is more than that. She is a deeply suffering orphan, unable of creating a meaningful relationship with men, craving for love with Damian, which was doomed from its very beginning . We discover more of her emptiness and detachment from Korean culture, which she had never experienced first hand. She doesn't identify with American culture either, as she is daughter of two Korean immigrants, forced to never become an "American sweetheart",After Suzy discovers during one of her interpreting jobs in NY court that the circumstances of her parents' death (5 years ago) are not by random thug as stated in their case file, she decides to look into their case herself. Eventually, this leads Suzy to trace her long-lost sister's steps and the reader learns about their relationship. "One day that you find yourself alone, will you remember that I am too?" Suzy Park is an individualist, "who craves a warm body despite love, who lies in the dark pretending to live." This line sums up her relationship with men. Suzy believes she is incapable of having a "real relationship" so she feels attraction toward married man, because she can never share future with them.I connected with The interpreter on many levels and definitely recommend it as an unusual read full of suspense and highly identifiable protagonist.

  • Edith
    2018-10-05 16:40

    I loved this author’s nonfiction book “Without You There is No Us” which recounts her teaching stint in North Korea to its elite young men. This is her first novel.I am not sure that I can give this book a fair rating though, as I read it in choppy small time spaces over several weeks with some marathon TV watching in between and felt myself to be losing the continuity of the story because of this. The writing itself is often very good- she portrays a young Korean woman interpreter who is a lost soul trying to understand the curious and alienating circumstances of her life- coping with immigrant status, relationships with married men, parents murdered and missing sister- in a way that is palpable on the page. But the mystery in the story dips in and out in a way that I found confusing. Maybe I wasn’t able to read between the lines well enough, but I was never able to sink into this story and love it. I also wanted more resolution at the end.That said, I would certainly read anything further that this author writes because she is good with words.