Title: Untold Night and Day (original title: 알려지지 않은 밤과 하루)
Writer: Bae Suah (translated by Deborah Smith)
Publishing House: Jonathan Cape
Date of Publication: January 30th 2020 (first published April 20th 2013)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’By the time the heatwave came to an end, nothing remained of the people but ash. They became fused into panes of glass: grey and opaque.’’
Five people search the streets of Seoul for something to grasp at. An actress, an aspiring poet, a teacher, a director, a novelist from abroad. A group of individuals linked by a personal story of loneliness, unfulfillment and the fear of the unknown. But who are they? Why are they wandering in a city smothered by an absurd heatwave? There is no wind, no bird songs, no colours in the sky. A radio switches on and off by itself, blindness and haziness walk hand-in-hand with surreal dreams, apparitions, faces with scars and blood-stained clothes.
A day and a night in a loop where each character is merged into the other, events are seen as if from the window of a car driving in the night, the city lights coming alive and fading away. It is a dinner in a blackout restaurant, a visit to a gallery, the reading of a poem, the performance of an audio theatre. It is life depicted in black-and-white photographs, phone calls with no caller or recipient. It is a drop of sweat, a pianist in the park, a cry of fear in the face of the absolute void….
The Translator’s Note by Deborah Smith is as beautiful and haunting as the novel itself. Her translation elevates the novel to an other realm.
‘’Don’t go far away, even for just one day, because
Because… a day is long, and
I will wait for you.’’