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The Interpreter

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3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  668 Ratings  ·  78 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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(showing 1-30 of 2,175)
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Eve
Dec 25, 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
...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 emigrati...ma lei è un'interp
...more
Owen
Apr 19, 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
Victoria
Jun 14, 2016 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
Jun 11, 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
Feb 11, 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
Cornelia
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
Gaisce
Nov 06, 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
...more
Val
May 27, 2011 Val 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
...more
Isabella Diocson
Dec 08, 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
...more
Kathleen Perkins
Apr 25, 2015 Kathleen Perkins rated it really liked it
Shelves:
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
Edith
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
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Sara
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
...more
Erin the Avid Reader ★Wiccan Girl, Too★
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
...more
English Education
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Dwiasty
Jul 05, 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
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Alina
May 18, 2015 Alina rated it liked it
Loved her memoir of her time in North Korea teaching ("Without You, There is No Us") and eagerly put this (award winning, I think?) novel on hold at my library.

It's hard to rate this. It was good, yes; her writing style is excellent. But I never understood any of the characters in any real way, certainly nothing like in her memoir where every conversation or interaction seemed to revealed something bigger, deeper. Also, the genre was mostly like an old-school detective novel - with a dash of We
...more
Carl
Nov 12, 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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Maya Kulkarni
Apr 25, 2008 Maya Kulkarni rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of my all time favorites. Chilling and dark.
S.
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
...more
Maddymappo
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
...more
Staarked
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.
Kit
Apr 11, 2016 Kit rated it really liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
A really promising debut novel. There's a lot that's fresh about the characters and story. I'm curious now to read her more recent memoir. I didn't like the habit of editing lots of expositionary reflection into moments in the middle of action - ie, the protagonist is about to ring a bell or approach a stranger and we get five pages or more of her reminiscing in that split second. Also, the ceiling in Grand Central is simply not "lime green."
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
...more
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
Catherine
Mar 10, 2010 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
...more
Vivian
Oct 19, 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
Bora Hah
Oct 26, 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.
Joy
Five years after her parents' murder, interpreter Suzy Park stumbles across evidence that suggests the killings were not the random act of violence that they originally seemed to be. This novel starts very slowly; I nearly gave up on it during the over-written first chapter. The narrative dwells for long periods of time on Suzy's directionless adulthood; while those sections eventually tie in with the central themes and mystery, they were still horribly boring. However, the pace picks up in the ...more
V
Jan 16, 2016 V rated it really liked it
I learned a lot about Korean culture by reading this great book. Also learned what su long tang is (oxtail soup) though I have yet to find a restaurant that serves it around here.
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readers advisory ...: something suki kim-esque 39 72 Jan 23, 2015 03:27PM  
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  • Long for This World
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  • Your Republic Is Calling You
  • Yellow: Stories
  • Fox Girl
  • The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏng: The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea
  • The Lucky Gourd Shop
  • The Guest
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  • Jia
  • Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen
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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
More about Suki Kim...

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“You can only drive yourself crazy if you have no distance from the world” 2 likes
“But the blessing came with its price. 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. What Damian had called a “blessing” pushed her out of context, always. She was stuck in a vacuum where neither culture moved nor owned her. Deep inside, she felt no connection, which Damian seemed to have understood.” 0 likes
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