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The Hole
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Monthly Reads > Buddy Read for August 2018: The Hole by Hye-young Pyun

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Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments Continuing our perusal of the 2017 Shirley Jackson Award nominees*, Bill Hsu and I are planning to read The Hole, which was this year's winner in the novel category.

'The Hole' is author Hye-Young Pyun's fourth novel and her second book to be published in English translation. World Literature Today writes that "The Hole is rooted in character but has the suspense of a thriller" and recommends the book to "readers who are unafraid of knowing that our life, and our loved ones, are strangers to us."

If this sounds intriguing to you, please join us and contribute your thoughts on this thread.

Happy reading!

*We've previously read David Demchuk's brilliant novel in stories The Bone Mother and, unofficially, Lindsey Drager's excellent The Lost Daughter Collective, which tied for best novella in this year's awards. We've also read a number of the short story collections nominated and Samantha Schweblin's Fever Dream, which tied with the Drager book for best novella (again, an excellent book). Feel free to ask us about any of these or just to share your thoughts.


Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments Look forward to diving in this weekend. I also posted a shorter announcement to another topic; hope I'm not violating some kind of no-crosspost rule.


message 3: by Bill (last edited Aug 20, 2018 08:49AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments I'm about 80 pages in. Enjoying it so far, though it understandably moves at a leisurely pace; we're barely past most of the events in the synopsis.

With the focus on small details of domestic strife, this is reminding me more than a little of Han Kang's The Vegetarian. I must admit I was hoping for the kind of meta-narrative of "self-discovery after physical trauma" that Brian Evenson and (say) Kobo Abe do so well.


Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments You're way ahead of me. I just started Chapter 5 (so about thirty pages in, I guess-not sure how well Kindle pagination corresponds to the real thing).

I'm liking this so far even though I find it uncomfortable to read. I'm a bit claustrophobic so the thought of being literally imprisoned in my body is horrifying and anxiety-producing. I think Pyun does a good job of detailing Oghi's situation, the horror of it, without allowing the reader to get too bogged down in her own fears, such that she can't follow the story.

I see what you mean about similarities to 'The Vegetarian'. I suspect both writers come from a similar background and are exploring some of the same territory, albeit with a slightly different focus.


message 5: by Bill (last edited Aug 25, 2018 09:36AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments (I think Marie-Therese is ahead of me by now.) Past the halfway point, things are taking an even darker turn. The protagonist's helplessness and frustration are evoked nicely, especially in the episode with the telephone. It's clear that this is just going to get more horrific for the poor fellow.

I can't get excited about the prose. But the translation is clean and very readable, and largely free of annoying artifacts.


Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments Finished this late last night. I'll wait until you finish to comment further.


Bill Hsu (billhsu) | 1432 comments I enjoyed the downward spiral of the closing chapters. The inevitable trajectory just kind of sucks one along.

It's hard to explain, but I was hoping for a little more in the ending. (I'm known to be picky.)


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