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Nowhere to Be Found

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3.52  ·  Rating details ·  346 ratings  ·  66 reviews
A nameless narrator passes through her life, searching for meaning and connection in experiences she barely feels. For her, time and identity blur, and all action is reaction. She cant quite understand what motivates others to take life seriously enough to focus on anythingfor her existence is a loosely woven tapestry of fleeting concepts. From losing her virginity to ...more
Kindle Edition, 108 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Amazon Crossing (first published 1998)
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Average rating 3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  346 ratings  ·  66 reviews


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Antonomasia
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Best Translated Book Award Longlist 2016
[4.5] A curious experience, finding out what's actually inside a book you've been hearing about for a while, especially when it's not quite what you expected. I was always going to buy this (£1.98 for a tiny novella - only 799 Kindle locations, in case you think in those terms - bargain price because it's published by AmazonCrossing) if it was longlisted for the BTBA, but the synopsis and washed-out cover didn't appeal enough for me to buy it with no particular focus for discussion.

After three
...more
L.S. Popovich
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hypothetically, if I were teaching a creative writing class and a student had turned in this novella, I would have got up out of my comfy chair and forced her to start teaching the class. This book had everything I want from literary fiction. Since this is the second work by this author I've read, I'll have to call myself a devoted fan.

This short novel from Bae Suah depicts its time and place masterfully. It is a compact, well told story of a woman in a meaningless job, trying to get by. Despite
...more
David Yoon
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I find many of the Korean works in translation challenging books and this slim volume is no exception. Essentially the story is anchored around our female protagonist trying to visit her sort-of-boyfriend off on military service. But surrounding it are explorations of ennui, familial obligations, cultural expectation and struggling in an indifferent world.

It feels deep, piercing and sharp but ultimately there are no narrative stakes here. Its like a Bergman movie in print. I just dont feel like
...more
Zak
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Despite the bleak setting, somehow the words didnt resonate with me and I couldnt really connect with the main character. More like a 2.5 if Im being completely honest. ...more
H.A. Leuschel
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating insight into Korean society and linguistically original!
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of Nowhere To Be Found from its publisher, Amazon Crossing, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Nowhere To Be Found is a Korean novella that depicts a few events during one year of a young woman's life. As the book is small, so these events are small, yet through reading the heroine's descriptions I gained an uncomfortably graphic account of her poverty and her family's struggle to survive. Early on, Suah writes of her protagonist's temporary
...more
Barry Welsh
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Short Korean novel

I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in Korean literature. Bae Suah writers very well about alienation poverty and loneliness. Highly recommended
Lauren
The untethered submissive ennui just never won me over.

Big MOOD story, and for that reason, I see the appeal. Just not for me.
Richard Cho
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
To become an absolutely meaningless thing in order to survive time. This maxim most accurately reflects our nameless narrators mindset as we follow the events surrounding her during one winter in Korea. But what does it mean to survive time, that entity which is so relentless in its continuity and utterly indifferent to human concerns?

Nowhere to be Found is the Korean writer Bae Suahs first novel to be translated into English. It is a concise portrayal of an intense psychological meditation
...more
Paul Fulcher
"If you gently stroke my lips and the palm of my hand right now, you will find them strangely cold and icy, a feeling of endless distance that even I can sense. Someone once said to me, 'You're so cold that I shake with despair. The whole time we're together your lips never once flush, and your body is like slippery ice. You have the eyes of a wolf-girl whose heart has never once been moved. When I press my ear to your chest, I hear only wind and emptiness.'
...
Burn me. Pour gasoline over me and
...more
Jaymee
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-lit
Haven't read anything quite like this. Short, really depressing stream-of-consciousness story that glides smoothly, and settles uncomfortably in you. Decently done, and would read more from this writer.
Florina
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very ugly and very beautiful, in equal parts. I love books that embrace failure to find meaning.
Ronald Morton
I liked this a bit more than Recitation, but maybe that's because this is shorter? I know that sounds dismissive, but I didn't really enjoy either book, while I still enjoyed her writing. I can see why people like her stuff, but it didn't connect for me in any meaningful way. Probably will give her a pass in the future.
Kritika Narula
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Originally Reviewed at So many books, so little time

"And that is how I became an absolutely meaningless thing and survived time"

If how this book ends cannot make you cry, I don't know what will.
The thing with the story and plot is- and it works out in favor of the book- that despite the cultural differences between the places there and here, the universal human emotions overpower the plot and it is a painful delight to read through the pages. A painful delight is an oxymoron, but the book
...more
Marie-Therese
Disquieting little book that touches movingly on themes of social class, poverty, humiliation, loss of hope and identity, and self-abasement. Bae's language is poetic without being particularly ornate-a prose style that suits the melancholy first-person musings of her narrator very well. An existential novel for the modern age and, perhaps, especially for South Korea, a trend-driven, status and class-conscious society where political action of any kind all too often seems pointless and "real ...more
Felicity Gibson
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No Where to be Found
By Bae Suah
Read 4th February 2015
Posted on Good Reads

"The rain falls, lays siege to the entire world, as if it has been falling that way for years. The rain will fall even after the death of time. Roof half falling down. Windows broken. Kitchen dripping rainwater. Porch covered in filth. Creaky stairs covered in cats' paw prints. Dead rag doll, straw insides poking out. And, above all the gruesome things, our frigid relationship." We enter the book without pomp. It is a
...more
Robert Wechsler
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: asian-lit
A sometimes very intense, very first-person novella that intentionally does not hold together much and does not move like a novel. Just when you think the author is being more conventional, she pulls the rug out from under you. She seems to want you to be as uncomfortable with the novella as the narrator is with herself and with others. Or is she (the narrator, that is)? Nothing is certain here.

The novella didnt really work for me, but it was certainly a unique reading experience, and just the
...more
Georgina Lara
A difficult read albeit short. The despair and pointlessness of this womans life is palpable. There is no hope for her, nothing will change, time repeats itself and theres nothing new. ...more
Bob Lopez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meghan
Apr 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I've figured out the Netgalley system: Get books that have been translated into English. Even better if they are by POC. Even even better if WOC. For example, Nowhere to Be Found, you don't even have to request it; it's just there ready for download. I spent thirty minutes with it, finished, and then thought about what to write for two days.

Nowhere to Be Found is a series of scenes. Each scene is like a perfect little wrapped truffle, but it's like the box of these truffles has been shaken up
...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A young woman and her family struggle with public humiliation, shame, and poverty. The story is told from her perspective. Middle child. Mid-twenties. Ten years older than her sister. Ten years younger than her brother. The distance of time between each of their births might as well be measured in light years because they dont seem to possess the typical bond one would expect to find between siblings. Each acts like a parent figure to the next in line below them with only the youngest daughter, ...more
David Rush
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Whoa! This is a crazy book.

In one sense I want to find out more about the author and what the heck she is all about...but in another sense I don't. Because what if she has some totatly reasonable explanations for lines like these?

Cheolsu, I will eat your chicken when that day comes. I will gladly become your toilet. When I can, for once in my life, for a brief moment, become ardently pure. (p. 80).

The prison of time called life. The prison of class and circumstance. The prison of a code
...more
Beth Peninger
Apr 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Crossing for this free readers edition. In exchange I am providing an honest review.

Bae Suah is a South Korean author, thank goodness for translators! :)
I'm not sure what caught my attention about this novella and compelled me to pick it up.
The story is told in first person and we never know the name of this woman. She focuses in on the year 1988 in South Korea. Her father is in prison for a political reason, her brother - 10 years older than her - is headed
...more
Patrick
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love the way that Bae Suah doesn't have to ask you to believe any of her characters, and the ways you can just accept that you're right there with the narrator, doubting everything and lost in the haze of life. Props to the translator for the title, and I may have to reread this in a few months to fully appreciate. I was really struck by how atmospheric this book felt, and the multi-layered weaving of motifs in such a short space. Recommend for a quick winter read!
Theresa
This novelette is a fast yet very powerful read. It is in a sense sad and depressing, but at the same time quite eye-opening as this unnamed young woman takes you through her life of poverty. It is raw and unnerving at times and and makes the reader think of how this existence could be acceptable to live. I questioned why she didn't leave and why she took the abuse of her mother and her other relationships.

It is hard to say I enjoyed this book as it is haunting and depressing - as it seems odd
...more
A Reader's Heaven
(I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)

NOWHERE TO BE FOUND is a starkly elegant story about a young womans search for meaning in contemporary South Korea that translator Sora Kim-Russell calls a road novel turned inside out, a story of a womans journey out of and into desire told as only Bae Suah could tell it. As the nameless narrator passes through her life haunted by poverty, conformity, and dysfunctional relationships, she learns to turn inward
...more
Teresa
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
This feels more like a short story because of its length. The length made it difficult for me to form a close connection to the characters. I empathized with the situations that the protagonist faced. I understood her anger and disappointment. But there were multiple moments in which the darkness of the main character's thinking distanced myself from her. But I can still respect her outlook because I've never had to endure winter without a coat or watch my mother lose her job over alcohol. I ...more
Mandy
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This haunting and unsettling novella is the story of a young Korean woman in 1988, a turbulent time in Korea, a time of rapid change, the era of the Seoul Olympics and increasing wealth. But none of that touches our unnamed narrator, who wanders aimless and directionless through a series of low-paid jobs as she struggles to support her dysfunctional poverty-stricken family. Only 24, she seems totally detached from her surrounding s and unable to connect with the people around her. She has a ...more
Melissa
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, arc
This story was simple, yet so real that I couldn't stop reading. Ok, I know that's not much of a feat since it's only about 60 pages, but I could have read more. This could easily be one story in a series.

Basically it's a snapshot in the life of a young woman in a low income family in South Korea. You get a glimpse into her life and then get to see how she reacts when she has one of those days when everything goes wrong. Most of the story takes place on that day. I loved the writing because
...more
Melinda
Mar 18, 2015 rated it liked it
This novella tells the story of a young Korean woman on a journey in finding herself while living a poverty-stricken life. This story is a bit depressing, but at the same time eye opening in terms of the (little) insight we get into the culture of the young protagonist. She has to deal with an alcoholic mother and living in poverty and yet she still finds love, but loses him. There is so much in this story to ponder about. Id really recommend it. Its not a happy story, but its short enough to ...more
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The Mookse and th...: 2016 Longlist: Nowhere to Be Found 6 27 May 13, 2016 08:45AM  

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Bae Suah, one of the most highly acclaimed contemporary Korean authors, has published more than a dozen works and won several prestigious awards. She has also translated several books from the German, including works by W. G. Sebald, Franz Kafka, and Jenny Erpenbeck. Her first book to appear in English, Nowhere to be Found, was longlisted for a PEN Translation Prize and the Best Translated Book ...more

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28 likes · 2 comments
“No matter how decadent and corrupt my body becomes, I will, like a desert orchid that blooms once every hundred years, come to you bearing this frigidness toward life.” 4 likes
“You have the eyes of a wolf-girl whose heart has never once been moved. When I press my ear to your chest, I hear only wind and emptiness.” 3 likes
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