Book review: Diary of a Murderer

Diary of a Murderer

Diary of a Murderer,
and Other Stories
by Young-Ha Kim
Mariner Books
Mystery/South Korean Literature
208 pages


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I usually don’t read short stories. Not sure why I originally requested Diary of a Murderer, as the subtitle clearly states there is more than one story in the volume. I guess I was secretly hoping they were all connected, but they are not. 

Anyway, Diary of a Murderer is the first and the longest of these four stories.
And it’s quite original: it is indeed the diary of a murderer, a serial killer even, who was never identified. But Kim is now 70 and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Talk about an unreliable narrator! Things get muddled and tricky when he believes his daughter Eunhui is in danger as a serial killer seems to be roaming the area. 

Apart from the passages on the disease that could draw sympathy from the reader towards this man, there are also interesting lines on poetry, as he tries to memorize a poem a day, to fight against the disease.

The way you feel about writing poems that no one reads and committing murders that no one knows about is not that different.

I liked the originality of the plot. 

It also touched on confusion in relationships, which I think is common to the four stories.

Origin of Life features it at the level of friendship. A man meets an old friend of his, and he realizes that she is beaten by her husband.

Missing Child centers on family life, and a child who was kidnapped at 3, apparently found again ten years later. Another mental disease is at play, with the child’s mother suffering from schizophrenia

And the main character in The Writer is in a mental hospital, “convinced that he was a cob of corn.” The relationship here is between a writer, his editor (actually his ex-wife), and his publisher.
This story was more confusing for me.

The first story sounded very promising, and I may try to read other books by the same author, but not another collection of short stories.

It was a nice exposure to South Korean literature, and if you want to expand your literature horizon, I would encourage you to read at least the first story.

VERDICT: Collection of four short stories that gives a nice sample of the creative and most original turn of the author’s mind.  

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Who is your favorite South Korean author?

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received this ebook free of charge from the publisher through Edelweiss. I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.


7 thoughts on “Book review: Diary of a Murderer

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