Review by Booklist Review
Joining a growing cohort of notable Korean imports, Ha's dazzling, vaguely intertwined collection of 10 stories is poised for Western acclaim. In Flowers of Doom, a loner painstakingly studies his neighbors by sifting through their trash Garbage never lies eventually deciphering the affair that implodes next door in number 507. That same 507 appears in The Woman Next Door, in which a new neighbor moves in; she's single, friendly, and first borrows a spatula from the wife of the family next door, then quickly manipulates possession of the husband and son. Agitated tenants hope to prevent the owner from selling their building in The Retreat, but the evening ends in murder. Violence also drives Nightmare, in which desperate parents try to convince their daughter that an assault upon her was all a nightmare. An unlikely relationship between a security guard and a shoplifting magician ends tragically in Your Rearview Mirror. Women gracing billboards come alive in Flag and Toothpaste. Like Ha's compatriots Han Yujoo (The Impossible Fairy Tale, 2017) and Ancco (Bad Friends, 2018), PEN/Heim Translation Fund-awarded Hong enables English-language readers access into Ha's disturbing, unpredictable, oneiric yet all too recognizable world in which heat stifles, waste rots, and bonds break; yet, for most, life goes on.--Terry Hong Copyright 2019 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
The characters in this stellar collection from Ha, her American debut, live at the edge of normalcy, flirting with the strange and unsettling while going about their everyday routines. "The Woman Next Door" sees a mother slowly lose control of her family and short-term memory after befriending her new neighbor. "The Retreat" begins as a tale concerning commercial tenants rallying to stop their landlord from demolishing their building before evolving into a story of murder. In the harrowing "Nightmare," a young woman believes she is a victim of a sexual assault, yet her parents try to convince her she dreamt the incident, and in the lighter "Early Beans," a man agrees to deliver a package for an injured moped messenger and ventures into the unknown. Ha sets many of her narratives in the unbearable heat of spring and summer, which adds to the environment and engages the senses, so, for example, when the main character of the title story sifts through a woman's trash, the odor of rotted food twists round his attempts to learn more about her. Likewise, in "Flag," an electrical repairman battles the temperature as he uncovers the mystery of a local power outage. This impressive collection reveals Ha's close attention to the eccentricities of life, and is sure to earn her a legion of new admirers. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
In even the most mundane lives, spectacular and shocking things can happen.This is a collection of 10 unsettling short stories by Korean author Ha (Traversing Afternoon, 2017), one of the new wave of Korean women writers, thoughtfully translated by Hong. Ha has a gift for infusing elements of the fantastic into her tales of unremarkable people. Her protagonists are housewives, schoolgirls, and seemingly bland office workers whose daily lives eventually veer off into the surreal, the macabre, or the downright bizarre. Like those of the American auteur David Lynch, Ha's characters seem to exist in another dimension. As these stories unfold, things become more surreal and eccentric. In the title story, "Flowers of Mold," the hero, or maybe antihero, is a man who meticulously searches through his neighbors' garbage bags looking for clues to their lives and personalities. His fervor goes up a notch when he becomes obsessed with his next-door neighbor and her ex-boyfriend. "Waxen Wings" is a modern retelling of the tale of Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun, from the perspective of a former female gymnast. She longs to fly but grows too tall to compete and finds a much more extreme alternative. "Your Rearview Mirror" is the story of a department store security guard's obsession with a pretty female customer who he eventually discovers has more than one dark secret. "The Woman Next Door" begins with a polite request to borrow a spatula and ends in a spiral of jealousy, shoplifting, and possibly madness. Even though this is a book of short stories, it's definitely a page-turner, as readers encounter one strange, unsettling saga after another, always wondering, "What can possibly happen now?"If you're looking for a book that will make you gasp out loud, you've found it. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.