BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

Reviews of Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Dusapin

Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Dusapin

Winter in Sokcho

by Elisa Dusapin
  • BookBrowse Review:
  • Critics' Consensus:
  • Paperback:
  • Apr 2021
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About This Book

Book Summary

It's winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea.

The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, beyond the beach guns point out from the North's watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape. The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an "authentic" Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls, and cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows―the gaudy neon lights, the scars of war, the fish market where her mother works. As she's pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen.

An exquisitely-crafted debut, which won the Prix Robert Walser, Winter in Sokcho is a novel about shared identities and divided selves, vision and blindness, intimacy and alienation. Elisa Shua Dusapin's voice is distinctive and unmistakable.

Excerpt
Winter in Sokcho

HE ARRIVED bundled up in a woolen coat.

He put his suitcase down at my feet and pulled off his hat. Western face. Dark eyes. Hair combed to one side. He looked straight through me, without seeing me. Somewhat impatiently, he asked me in English if he could stay for a few days while he looked around for something else. I gave him a registration form to fill in. He handed me his passport so I could do it for him. Yan Kerrand, 1968, from Granville. A Frenchman. He seemed younger than in the photo, his cheeks less hollow. I held out my pencil for him to sign and he took a pen from his coat. While I was checking him in, he pulled off his gloves, placed them on the counter, inspected the dust, the cat figurine on the wall above the computer. I felt compelled, for the first time since I'd started at the guest house, to make excuses for myself. I wasn't responsible for the run-down state of the place. I'd only been working there a month.

There were two buildings. In ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!
  • award image

    National Book Awards
    2021

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Short, staccato sentences propel the story forward with the brevity and momentum of a journal entry. There is a deceptive amount of skill on show, however. Dusapin achieves much with little, conjuring the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of Sokcho to great effect, making for a surprisingly evocative reading experience. The bittersweet conclusion feels in keeping with the novel's overall tone and approach. Dusapin says just enough to hint at the profound impact the characters have had on each other, while leaving room for both to continue exploring their identities beyond the page...continued

Full Review (548 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin).

Media Reviews

Huffington Post
A masterpiece.

New Statesman (UK)
A masterful short novel.

The Guardian (UK)
Oiled with a brooding tension that never dissipates or resolves, Winter in Sokcho is a noirish cold sweat of a book.

Irish Times
Enigmatic, beguiling . . . This finely crafted debut explores topics of identity and heredity in compelling fashion. In its aimless, outsider protagonist there are echoes of Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Dusapin's novel avoids clichés...[and] depicts a fiercely intelligent, independent woman who longs to be seen clearly for who she is and the choices she has made...The descriptions of daily life in the titular town are beautiful, elliptical, and fascinating...A triumph.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[L]uminous...Dusapin's precise sentences, expertly translated by Higgins, elicit cinematic images and strong emotions. This poignant, fully realized debut shouldn't be missed.

Author Blurb Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
Mysterious, beguiling, and glowing with tender intelligence, Winter in Sokcho is a master class in tension and atmospherics, a study of the delicate, murky filaments of emotion that compose a life. Dusapin has a rare and ferocious gift for pinning the quick, slippery, liveness of feeling to the page: her talent is a thrill to behold.

Author Blurb Lara Williams, author of Supper Club
A vivid, tactile, often claustrophobic, and gorgeously written novel. An absolute joy from beginning to end.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book



Growing Support for Translated Literature

Booker Prize logo atop stack of books recognized for international prize in 2021In 2007, the University of Rochester launched Three Percent, an online database that aimed to strengthen support for translated literature within the US market, supplementing the work of their translation press, Open Letter — publisher of Elisa Dusapin's Winter in Sokcho. The project was a response to reports at the time that a mere three percent of books published in the US were works in translation. But how have things changed since then?

It does seem that respect for the value of translated literature is growing within the industry itself, slowly but surely. Though an early form of the International Booker Prize was established in 2005, for example, it was initially awarded just once every two years to an author for their ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Winter in Sokcho, try these:

  • One Hour of Fervor jacket

    One Hour of Fervor

    by Muriel Barbery

    Published 2024

    About this book

    More by this author

    From the best-selling author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog comes a family story with a difference, a novel about the decisions one makes and the destiny they determine by one of Europe's most brilliant and stylistically subtle authors.

  • Starling Days jacket

    Starling Days

    by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

    Published 2021

    About this book

    The moving new novel by the author of Harmless Like You, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice and NPR Great Read.

We have 5 read-alikes for Winter in Sokcho, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Bury Your Gays
    Bury Your Gays
    by Chuck Tingle
    Chuck Tingle, for those who don't know, is the pseudonym of an eccentric writer best known for his ...
  • Book Jacket: Blue Ruin
    Blue Ruin
    by Hari Kunzru
    Like Red Pill and White Tears, the first two novels in Hari Kunzru's loosely connected Three-...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman and a Thief
    A Gentleman and a Thief
    by Dean Jobb
    In the Roaring Twenties—an era known for its flash and glamour as well as its gangsters and ...
  • Book Jacket: Early Sobrieties
    Early Sobrieties
    by Michael Deagler
    Dennis Monk is sober now, and he expects some applause. Or at least some recognition that he's ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Lady Tan's Circle of Women
by Lisa See
Lisa See's latest historical novel, inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China.
Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Win This Book
Win Smothermoss

Smothermoss by Alisa Alering

A haunting, imaginative, and twisting tale of two sisters and the menacing, unexplained forces that threaten them and their rural mountain community.

Enter