"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Interpreter

TITLE: The Interpreter
AUTHOR: Suki Kim

I'm choosy about what I read, so I'm rarely disappointed by content or writing style, because I skim a bit in the middle of books that have interesting plots when I'm not familiar with the author. In the case of The Interpreter, I was intrigued by the plot of a Korean-American interpreter in her late-20s who gradually learns disturbing truths about her parents, small grocery owners in NYC who were murdered 5 years earlier. The prose, when I skimmed, seem succinct and eloquent. I wanted to read and enjoy this book. And I did. Eventually.

My disappointment in this book is that it could have been better. It took forever to get to anything resembling tension or action or intrigue. Except for a few little hints here and there, the first half of the book meanders around Suzy, the protagonist's personal life. And while the background is important as the layers of her early years and teens are peeled back, there was little to involve me emotionally until layers down deep are exposed and the book takes off in the second half, while maintaining its slow, meandering pace.

I imagine, given the author is Korean and moved to NYC when she was 13, that the book accurately portrays Korean immigrants and the Korean culture in NYC neighborhoods. It's an interesting peek into that community. I can't say that another reader won't be hooked from the start, but I think it takes some patience. So I won't heartily endorse it, nor will I tell you to forget it. I liked it. I just wish I could've liked it more. Maybe Suki Kim's next book will be more to my liking.