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The Interpreter

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  756 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
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 th ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by St. Martins Press (first published 2003)
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Feb 26, 2015 Eve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
"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
Apr 18, 2014 Owen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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 n ...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
tradurre non sempre vuol dire comprendere

Suzy 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 lei è un'interp
Feb 26, 2015 Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 20, 2008 Sarah Emily rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers comfortable with unsatisfying resolutions
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
Jan 08, 2013 Laura Barmby rated it it was ok
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 h ...more
Maya Kulkarni
Apr 25, 2008 Maya Kulkarni rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of my all time favorites. Chilling and dark.
Jan Priddy
Oct 01, 2016 Jan Priddy rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 21, 2013 S. rated it liked it
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 N
Nov 02, 2012 Gaisce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-american
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 sad
Feb 17, 2015 Sara rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Folks interested in Korean-American literature
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
Jan 17, 2011 Valerie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
"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
Isabella Diocson
Nov 24, 2013 Isabella Diocson rated it liked it
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 b
Jan 24, 2016 Cornelia rated it really liked it
Shelves: diverse-books, 2016
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 exper ...more
Kathleen Perkins
Apr 22, 2015 Kathleen Perkins rated it really liked it
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 he ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Staarked rated it really liked it
Shelves: absolute-fav
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
Oct 22, 2015 Bora Hah rated it it was amazing
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.
Tonstant Weader
Dec 04, 2016 Tonstant Weader rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, literature
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, ne ...more
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
(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 emptin
Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜
This book is utter rubbish. I thought this was going to be a good, creepy mystery but nope! Since the main character is an Asian American in New York who works for the NY Justice system she gets made fun of and bullied by white people and the main character complains about how her life in America is crap. Not joking.

Why do all these Asian American writers feel they have the need to make you feel like they're being oppressed? Seriously. They can't write in damn book without them spouting out how
Jun 01, 2015 Edith rated it it was ok
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
Jan 05, 2011 Maddymappo rated it liked it
Just finished reading "The Interpreter", an off beat novel about Suzy Park, a confused and depressed Korean/American young woman, who discovers, while translating for a legal deposition, that the murders of her parents five years earlier,were not random. As Suzy contemplates her dysfunctional upbringing and subsequent estrangement from her family and unhealthy romatic relationships, she unravels the mystery of the murders and her own slightly sociopathic persona.

Suzy travels around NYC and envir
Tejas Desai
May 05, 2013 Tejas Desai rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. It shows a lot of promise on the author's part, and hopefully the less than stellar reviews won't discourage her from more output (if she can get another book published through the conventional industry, that is). The main character might not be the most "likable" or whatever (I never understand why people say this--are you supposed to like them? And what does that even mean?) but that's why I respected the book.

It is in the Asian-American noir tradition as is my own fi
English Education
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jordan Cummings
Oct 26, 2013 Jordan Cummings rated it liked it
Shelves: culture
This book was not bad…just not one of my favorites. Even though I liked the storyline, and thought it was quite addicting to read, I just didn’t particularly enjoy the main character, Suzy. I thought she was a little dark and unrelatable. She is trying to figure out who killed her parents 5 years ago after she found out it was not a random murder. However, I thought she did some unethical things while in the process. Her job is to be an interpreter for the court, but she took advantage of it and ...more
Dec 24, 2009 Catherine rated it liked it
Well-written book, I usually stay away from Asian-American literature, but her writing is just really beautiful. It's one of the best I've read this year. It's a very interesting portrayal of Korean-American experience, without it being unnecessary or gratuitous "identity-seeking"

The plot is intense, the first chapter is a bit annoying, (it's like those stylistic pieces you do in creative writing), but get through it and the rest of the book is very rewarding.

The story is about a Korean-Americ
Jun 22, 2016 Dwiasty rated it liked it
I love the way Suki Kim describes the life of Korean immigrants in the US. It felt like I was there having the journey myself going in a subway going through all those Korean stores. I can only imagine the pain for those who feel do not belong in the foreign land especially for the first generations who seems that they do not have any choice and work and work to have a better life that they themselves cannot enjoy. It shows me the importance of family values that Koreans hold.

But aside from all
Oct 17, 2013 Vivian rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting. I guess I never really gave much thought to what the world of illegal immigrants would be like. I really liked the viewpoint of this book...seeing through the eyes of the daughter who grew up in the US and who had no idea of the undercurrents of her parents and their associates. The reader's eyes are opened along with the daughter's as the truth becomes known. And all the result of the US's inability to keep illegal aliens from landing here...these people come wit ...more
Nov 02, 2014 Carl rated it it was ok
I agree with one of the reviewers that it was hard to like this author. For me there was way too much inner dialog from a very self-involved narrator. Her engagements with all of the other characters were very stiff. This book is presented as kind of a mystery, but it really does get the genre right.

I read this book because it supposedly revealed a lot behind the Korean immigrant experience, which it does—that's why I gave at least two stars. I also read it because I wanted to read the author's
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readers advisory ...: something suki kim-esque 39 72 Jan 23, 2015 03:27PM  
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Suki Kim is the author of the award-winning novel The Interpreter and the recipient of Guggenheim, Fulbright, and Open Society fellowships. She has been traveling to North Korea as a journalist since 2002, and her essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s, and the New York Review of Books. Born and raised in Seoul, she lives in New York.

Her debut novel The Interpreter is a
More about Suki Kim...

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“You can only drive yourself crazy if you have no distance from the world” 2 likes
“The stars are in your favor, darling, you can't be horrible. Nope, they won't let you.” 1 likes
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