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Un ex-tueur en série décide de reprendre du service. Seul problème : il a soixante-douze ans et vient d'apprendre qu'il est atteint de la maladie d'Alzheimer. Sous ses dehors de vieillard inoffensif s'adonnant à ses heures perdues à la poésie et la philosophie, se cache un redoutable meurtrier qui a assassiné sans remords des dizaines de personnes. Aujourd'hui il repart en Un ex-tueur en série décide de reprendre du service. Seul problème : il a soixante-douze ans et vient d'apprendre qu'il est atteint de la maladie d'Alzheimer. Sous ses dehors de vieillard inoffensif s'adonnant à ses heures perdues à la poésie et la philosophie, se cache un redoutable meurtrier qui a assassiné sans remords des dizaines de personnes. Aujourd'hui il repart en chasse alors que rôde autour de sa maison un homme qui menace de s'en prendre à sa fille adoptive bien-aimée. S'engage alors une course contre la montre : tuer avant d oublier qui il est, avant que la maladie n'ait raison de lui, qu'il ne devienne prisonnier d'un temps sans passé ni futur. Un étrange roman d'humour noir dont l'héroïne n est autre que la mémoire qui se dérobe et brouille les pistes. Et un suspense au dénouement stupéfiant, car derrière une histoire peut s'en cacher une autre dont le lecteur découvre qu'il n'a jamais eu les clés, précisément parce que le narrateur les avait oubliées.


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Un ex-tueur en série décide de reprendre du service. Seul problème : il a soixante-douze ans et vient d'apprendre qu'il est atteint de la maladie d'Alzheimer. Sous ses dehors de vieillard inoffensif s'adonnant à ses heures perdues à la poésie et la philosophie, se cache un redoutable meurtrier qui a assassiné sans remords des dizaines de personnes. Aujourd'hui il repart en Un ex-tueur en série décide de reprendre du service. Seul problème : il a soixante-douze ans et vient d'apprendre qu'il est atteint de la maladie d'Alzheimer. Sous ses dehors de vieillard inoffensif s'adonnant à ses heures perdues à la poésie et la philosophie, se cache un redoutable meurtrier qui a assassiné sans remords des dizaines de personnes. Aujourd'hui il repart en chasse alors que rôde autour de sa maison un homme qui menace de s'en prendre à sa fille adoptive bien-aimée. S'engage alors une course contre la montre : tuer avant d oublier qui il est, avant que la maladie n'ait raison de lui, qu'il ne devienne prisonnier d'un temps sans passé ni futur. Un étrange roman d'humour noir dont l'héroïne n est autre que la mémoire qui se dérobe et brouille les pistes. Et un suspense au dénouement stupéfiant, car derrière une histoire peut s'en cacher une autre dont le lecteur découvre qu'il n'a jamais eu les clés, précisément parce que le narrateur les avait oubliées.

30 review for Ma mémoire assassine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    A fun, propulsive title story slightly let down by the bleakness of the rest of the collection

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I didn't realize that this was an anthology of short stories when I applied for the ARC, I was so taken with the title story: a tale about an old serial killer with a degenerative brain disease who believes his daughter is dating another serial killer. I mean, how awesome does that sound? Then I got the book and realized there were other stories in here, too. I call that a bonus. Diary of a Murderer: ☆☆☆☆ It's the title story, and what we Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I didn't realize that this was an anthology of short stories when I applied for the ARC, I was so taken with the title story: a tale about an old serial killer with a degenerative brain disease who believes his daughter is dating another serial killer. I mean, how awesome does that sound? Then I got the book and realized there were other stories in here, too. I call that a bonus. Diary of a Murderer: ☆☆☆☆ It's the title story, and what we're all here for. As I said, the narrator is a serial killer who was active until he was about 45 or so. Then he developed Alzheimer's and started to lose his whole killing drive. His daughter is actually the daughter of one of his victims, who he has raised himself, and he cares about her as much as he cares about anything-- which is why he is enraged when his daughter begins seeing the man he suspects is a rival serial killer setting up shop in the same town. Frantic, he begins to write down his thoughts in journals, and record instructions to himself on a device he wears around his neck. He must save his daughter by beating the killer at his own game-- before he forgets both the man and the mission. This was such a good story. The pacing is excellent and the translator did an amazing job. Sometimes translations can read as clunky, but this was smooth and felt like it was written in native English. Also, there's an amazing twist that I did not see coming, and the best part of all is, it's foreshadowed, so it doesn't even come out of nowhere. Those are the best kinds of twists, the ones where if you read back and look for the clues, you think to yourself, "Aha!" This was an "Aha!" Great story. The Origin of Life: ☆ Wasn't a fan of this one. It was boring and I skimmed it. Next. Missing Child: ☆☆☆☆ I honestly think I liked this one as much as the title story. A couple has their child kidnapped at a grocery store and their life has fallen apart. The husband is bitter and depressed and the wife has come down with schizophrenia. They're reunited with their child when his kidnapper ends her life and leads a note behind as a confession to what she's done. The reunion is painful, though, because the kid now considers his kidnapper his true parent and his new guardians as interlopers. This one was emotionally painful and did not have a happy ending (well, sort of), but it worked. The parents were flawed and so was the kid, and nobody was really a "good" character. It actually reminded me a bit of Herman Koch's THE DINNER in that it shows the way some people with mental illnesses can create toxic environments for their children and families, and how nuture can sometimes triumph over nature, no matter how much we wish otherwise. The Writer: ☆☆½ This is a story of a writer who is working on his new book. He has an affair, but it does not go as he expects. I felt like this story was dull. The beginning of it had a lot of promise, but after Missing Child and Diary of a Murderer, my expectations were high and this story kind of tanked. I just added up my ratings and averaged them out, which apparently means that this book is a 2.8. I feel like that is unfair to the 4-star stories, though, which were especially good, so I am going to bump my final rating up to a 3-stars. Honestly, this book is worth buying for the first story alone, which is the longest of the bunch, comprising half of the page count. It's so, so worth it. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 3 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    David

    A collection of short stories built around the titular story originally published as a standalone novella. It's easily the strongest of the group about a 70 year old veterinarian Byeongsu living with his adopted daughter Eunhui. The thing is she's actually the daughter of Byeongsu's last two victims capping off a long killing spree. And that's just the set-up. Things get even more interesting from there with twists that play with the form and leaves you scratching your head. It's something that A collection of short stories built around the titular story originally published as a standalone novella. It's easily the strongest of the group about a 70 year old veterinarian Byeongsu living with his adopted daughter Eunhui. The thing is she's actually the daughter of Byeongsu's last two victims capping off a long killing spree. And that's just the set-up. Things get even more interesting from there with twists that play with the form and leaves you scratching your head. It's something that carries over into the other stories as well. The twist, the subversion, the punchline in each of the stories. The final story, The Writer, veers way off the beaten track reading like a Korean Hunter S Thompson writing Naked Lunch while channelling Monty Python. It was a bit much - but again, totally unexpected. I really enjoyed the assured translation. Krys Lee teaches creative writing at one of of South Korea's most prestigious universities and is an English language novelist in her own right. She maintains the clipped, declarative style of an originalist translation but injects a bit of writerly flourish without getting too carried away. It's just right for this surprising collection.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Abbie | ab_reads

    3.5 stars Made up of three short stories and one novella (97 pages), Diary of a Murderer is completely dominated by the titular story. I LOVED this, a musing on memory and murder as an ex-serial killer attempts to save his adopted daughter from a man he believes is a fellow killer. It felt so weird to empathise with someone so despicable, but the portrayal of Alzheimer’s is just too heartbreaking. You can never know if what you’re reading is reality or a fabricated memory, the distinction between 3.5 stars Made up of three short stories and one novella (97 pages), Diary of a Murderer is completely dominated by the titular story. I LOVED this, a musing on memory and murder as an ex-serial killer attempts to save his adopted daughter from a man he believes is a fellow killer. It felt so weird to empathise with someone so despicable, but the portrayal of Alzheimer’s is just too heartbreaking. You can never know if what you’re reading is reality or a fabricated memory, the distinction between them becomes blurred as Byeongsu’s condition deteriorates. As for the rest of the collection, they weren’t BAD stories but they sort of paled in comparison to Diary of a Murderer. If you can borrow a copy from a library I’d recommend picking it up for that alone

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paul Fulcher

    It’s been twenty-five years since I last murdered someone, or has it been twenty-six? Anyway, it’s about that long ago. What drove me back then wasn’t, as people usually assume, the urge to kill or some sexual perversion. It was disappointment. It was hope for a more perfect pleasure. Each time I buried a victim, I repeated to myself: I can do better next time. Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories has been translated by Krys Lee from 김 영하 (Kim Young-ha's) Korean original. The book consists of fo It’s been twenty-five years since I last murdered someone, or has it been twenty-six? Anyway, it’s about that long ago. What drove me back then wasn’t, as people usually assume, the urge to kill or some sexual perversion. It was disappointment. It was hope for a more perfect pleasure. Each time I buried a victim, I repeated to myself: I can do better next time. Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories has been translated by Krys Lee from 김 영하 (Kim Young-ha's) Korean original. The book consists of four short stories, of which the longest - at 100 pages essentially a novella - is the title piece, 살인자의 기억법 in the original. The 기억법 in the original has an emphasis on memory - and indeed the film made from the book, with the same Korean title, was anglicised as Memoir of a Murderer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memoir_...). [NB this is distinct from the, in the west, better known Bong Joon-ho directed Memories of Murder (살인의 추억), a film referenced in this novel] This story is narrated by an ex-serial killer - his first victim was his abusive father and he killed many people since, successfully avoiding detection in the days before DNA testing and other modern methods. His last killing was 25 years ago - after murdering a couple and burying their bodies, he was involved in a car crash on the way back, the resulting head trauma seeming to remove his urge to kill. He then adopted the orphaned daughter of the victims (her parents assumed to have disappeared). Now, 25 years later, he is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's, his short term memory the first to go, and there is another serial killer at work in the area. He is convinced he has identified the man - involved in a minor traffic incident the two recognise each other as fellows - then to his horror the man starts dating his daughter. To add to the complications, the semi-retired detective in charge of the original murder investigation from 25 years ago is closing in on him. The author sets the story up well - the narrator mixes rather cold-blooded musings on murder with thoughts on Nietzschean philosophy and poetry. The way you feel about writing poems that no one reads and committing murders that no one knows about is not that different. And impressively, with the net seemingly tightening on both killers, the ending heads in a rather different and unexpected direction, leaving us questioning, along with the narrator, what actually happened (and interestingly the subsequent film of the book took the story along a much more conventional path). After this story, the other three feel, unfortunately, rather like less variations on a theme - indeed I wonder if the title tale might have been more memorable (if less good value) published as a stand-alone novella. My thanks to the Korean Literature Now (https://koreanliteraturenow.com/) and the Literature Translation Institute of Korea for the copy of the novel received as a prize for feedback on their excellent quarterly magazine.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    "People want to understand evil. A pointless desire...Evil is evil because you can't understand it." From DIARY OF A MURDERER and Other Stories by Kim Young-ha , translated from the #Korean by Krys Lee, 2019 (Korean/English translation) by Atlantic Books. One novella (the title story) followed by three short stories, this book showcases Kim's style - dark, edgy, yet filled with emotion and passion. The title story is worth the price of admission - an aging and 'retired' serial killer is diagnosed "People want to understand evil. A pointless desire...Evil is evil because you can't understand it." From DIARY OF A MURDERER and Other Stories by Kim Young-ha , translated from the #Korean by Krys Lee, 2019 (Korean/English translation) by Atlantic Books. One novella (the title story) followed by three short stories, this book showcases Kim's style - dark, edgy, yet filled with emotion and passion. The title story is worth the price of admission - an aging and 'retired' serial killer is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and his homicidal deeds play before him in fractured fashion. Told in the diary format, we experience his confusion as he encounters another serial killer and tries to protect his only family member. Powerful and dark - this was a great read. Curious of the Korean title of this work, as it resembles Nikolai Gogol's Diary of a Madman And Other Stories very closely in title. Purposeful? Probably, but by author or translator or publisher? Imitating a Russian great is a solid plan 🤓 . I had heard mixed reviews of the other three stories in the collection, but pressed on through and glad I did. Origin of Life was short and packs a punch. Missing Child had a familiar darkness and pathos, and The Writer had a mystical and erotic quality. If you like twisty dark tales (Kanae Minato, Han Kang, Samanta Schweblin, Yoko Ogawa, etc) this is definitely one to try.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I actually rated each story and took an average. 4.5/5 but rounded up for Goodreads. I prefer going into books/stories either knowing everything (getting spoilers) or knowing absolutely nothing. With this book, all I knew was there's a story with an old man who used to murder people and now is slowly losing his memory. I wasn't entirely aware that this was a collection (I thought the other stories bit in the title was still part of the diary..oops!) I'm actually really glad I went in fairly blin I actually rated each story and took an average. 4.5/5 but rounded up for Goodreads. I prefer going into books/stories either knowing everything (getting spoilers) or knowing absolutely nothing. With this book, all I knew was there's a story with an old man who used to murder people and now is slowly losing his memory. I wasn't entirely aware that this was a collection (I thought the other stories bit in the title was still part of the diary..oops!) I'm actually really glad I went in fairly blind, because these stories were crazy, in the best ways. The writing/story telling itself is amazing! The stories themselves, though, were at times soul hitting. Diary of a Murderer was so damn real, sad but also slightly disturbing. I felt ridiculous empathy for our narrator, which is pretty awkward considering he's a serial killer. This story took me and planted me into this elderly man's head and by the end of it, I felt so heartbroken for him. The confusion that is alzheimers/dementia and memory loss is such a terrifying situation. 5/5 The Origin of Life was so different. It touched on such deep subjects, like abuse and cheating, but was dismissive at the same time. It was strange, but again felt so real. It was disturbing to have characters be the way they are in this story, but I can't help but feel that is the way it usually is in real life. 4/5 Missing Child. Every parents worst nightmare. This story gutted me. It was like Diary, in that it touches on heavy health situations (in this case, mental illness), and the fallout from that. We have a family's deterioration at the hands of kidnapping and mental illness, another very real world situation. 5/5 The Writer. Ok, this story was hilarious and just so weird. The writing, again, is fantastic. But this story kind of deviated for me from the similar themes of the others. I'm torn between finding it a good, slightly funny way to end the collection, and it not fitting at all. I still very much enjoyed it, but feel it just didn't really fit the rest. 4/5 This collection is so different and refreshing, despite being kind of morbid/depressing. These are, for the most part, real life situations brought to paper and expanded on. It may not be for everyone, and some of the meaning may be lost if people are expecting something scary or creepy or even something lighthearted, but if you go in reading this and have no idea what to expect, I think it's a very enjoyable ride.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    Evil isn't what's terrifying. It's time. No one can defeat time." I really enjoyed the first story. Honestly, as I read I completely forgot about the "and other stories" in the title and honestly thought it would all tie back into the first story. His story was interesting and in-depth. I knew there was more going on but I loved the interesting twists. It was a hard story to stop because it felt so incomplete. The rest of the stories just didn't hold me or interest me like the first one. They wer Evil isn't what's terrifying. It's time. No one can defeat time." I really enjoyed the first story. Honestly, as I read I completely forgot about the "and other stories" in the title and honestly thought it would all tie back into the first story. His story was interesting and in-depth. I knew there was more going on but I loved the interesting twists. It was a hard story to stop because it felt so incomplete. The rest of the stories just didn't hold me or interest me like the first one. They were sad and confusing but not because of dementia or Alzheimer's but because you got little backstory or even current story. I found the stories interesting but I just didn't love them like the first one.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin (from Long Island, NY)

    The first (title) story is half the entire book- & it was by far the best story. I would’ve rated that a 3.5, but I really didn’t like the others. I had seen similar reactions in other reviews but (besides the first) the stories were very short so I figured ah how bad could they be, you’re not investing much! Unfortunately to me they just felt rushed & unfinished, and honestly kinda pointless.. I’d say if the title story catches your attention- definitely pick it up to enjoy that 1 & then stop w The first (title) story is half the entire book- & it was by far the best story. I would’ve rated that a 3.5, but I really didn’t like the others. I had seen similar reactions in other reviews but (besides the first) the stories were very short so I figured ah how bad could they be, you’re not investing much! Unfortunately to me they just felt rushed & unfinished, and honestly kinda pointless.. I’d say if the title story catches your attention- definitely pick it up to enjoy that 1 & then stop while you’re ahead!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    The title story, in particular, was just unbelievably good. I think an apt description for this book could be: nothing is quite as it seems. I think with the exception of the last story I really liked or even loved all the stories in the book and the last story was just not my cup of tea. I love the sense of the inevitable, it is almost as if it does not matter what the characters do, there was no other way the story could have gone. Diary of a Murderer will stay with me for a long time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pam's Shenanigans

    "We trouble life by the care of death, and death by the care of life." Amazing short story collection that primarily deals with death, the state of being alive, and whatever is in between. Reading this feels like you're in an eerie, macabre, dream-like stasis. "Ignorance imprisons man in darkness." "What makes a writer the master of his craft?" "We trouble life by the care of death, and death by the care of life." Amazing short story collection that primarily deals with death, the state of being alive, and whatever is in between. Reading this feels like you're in an eerie, macabre, dream-like stasis. "Ignorance imprisons man in darkness." "What makes a writer the master of his craft?"

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    4 short stories from Korean writer Young-Ha Kim. In the title story, an ex-serial killer develops dementia whilst a new spate of killings breaks out in his local area. As the story develops, reality and confusion become mixed as characters appear to be something they are not, and the police start to suspect him of the new crimes when a body is dug up by a dog on his property. This is a literate and interesting tale making use of references to Greek myths to frame the narrative. Kim uses the deme 4 short stories from Korean writer Young-Ha Kim. In the title story, an ex-serial killer develops dementia whilst a new spate of killings breaks out in his local area. As the story develops, reality and confusion become mixed as characters appear to be something they are not, and the police start to suspect him of the new crimes when a body is dug up by a dog on his property. This is a literate and interesting tale making use of references to Greek myths to frame the narrative. Kim uses the dementia as a clever metaphor for this confusion, and by the end it’s not at all clear what has exactly happened… The second story, ‘The Origin of Life’, involves two old school friends meeting again after twenty years and starting a (possibly platonic) relationship. She is married, and he becomes convinced that her husband has found out and is following him. The story turns to violence, and death, and Seojin finally finds himself able to move on from the weight of the past. The third story is entitled ‘Missing Child’, and is about a couple whose child is snatched from their shopping trolley in a supermarket. Ten years later they receive a phone call to say that the child has been found. The story deals with family relationships and identity, the child who may be biologically yours but has no feelings for you as a parent. As time passes the tensions remain, only for the child – now a grown man – to disappear again… And finally, ‘The Writer’ deals with the relationship between a writer, his publisher and the publisher’s wife, set in a New York apartment. This Kafkaesque tale starts with a man thinking he is a cob of corn being chased by chickens, and takes ever more bizarre twists as it develops. This is the first work that I have read by this author and is a fascinating, well-written series of stories, examining the act of creation, the human impulse, and the nature of truth and fiction, blurred as it so often is. Often unsettling in theme, they are also unsettling in nature as the reader is often left questioning what it is that they have just read. The first story, as the longest, is perhaps the most interesting and fully developed, but I found the others equally appealing in their own way. If it’s any indication of how I felt, I am now determined to seek out his other work available in English. Well worth a read, a definite recommend for fans of offbeat and original Korean literature.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either. I feel kind of ambivalent about it. I think the ideas were interesting but the writing fell flat, though that could be totally because of translation. The first story was the best. The sexism bothered me a lot. It was treated as a fact that women are all mentally unbalanced and gender roles were perpetuated. There was a lot of violence against women. Seojin in "The Origin of Life" was the shittiest friend on the planet. He's friends with this woman un This wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either. I feel kind of ambivalent about it. I think the ideas were interesting but the writing fell flat, though that could be totally because of translation. The first story was the best. The sexism bothered me a lot. It was treated as a fact that women are all mentally unbalanced and gender roles were perpetuated. There was a lot of violence against women. Seojin in "The Origin of Life" was the shittiest friend on the planet. He's friends with this woman until things get tough, and then it's "Bye, have fun with your abusive husband!" And in the end, after she (view spoiler)[ frigging dies, he's just relieved he didn't get more involved. What a swell guy. (hide spoiler)] The way the wife/mother was treated in "Missing Child," makes me think of Han Kang's The Vegetarian, and the frustrating feelings of, "Why isn't anyone asking her what is wrong? Or trying to help?" "The Writer" felt gross to me, and like self-indulgence on the author's part. The owner's wife was very clearly a fantasy and an object - no woman is going to sleep with you when you haven't showered in a week. No, you're not that appealing. Summaries: Diary of a Murderer - An ex-serial killer gets Alzheimer's. He becomes embroiled in a situation with another serial killer who is pursuing his daughter and struggles to stop him amid the confusion of his rapidly-worsening dementia. (view spoiler)[But is he really a serial killer? Does he have a daughter? At the end we are given a sense that nothing he has told us about hit recent life is real. (hide spoiler)] The Origin of Life - A man meets his childhood friend and befriends her, but her abusive husband puts a strain on their relationship. (view spoiler)[ He's threatened by a man who he thinks is her husband but turns out not to be, and the woman almost kills her husband while trying to defend herself. Seojin is a shitty friend and encourages her to call an ambulance for her husband, an naturally he continues beating her after he's released from the hospital and she dies under mysterious circumstances. The guy who was threatening Seojin beats the husband up, but Seojin is just glad that in the end he didn't get involved. (hide spoiler)] Missing Child - Yunseok's 3-year-old son is kidnapped one day at the grocery store. (view spoiler)[Ten years later the son is found, having been raised by his kidnapper his whole life until she killed herself. Yunseok tries to reestablish his son in the family but Seongmin is a troubled (and traumatized) kid who barely believes his mother who raised him was actually his kidnapper. Yunseok's wife has developed a severe case of schizophrenia triggered by the kidnapping and fails to develop any kind of relationship with Seongmin, instead wandering into the mountains and dying. Yunseok tries to make things work, but Seongmin eventually leaves home and doesn't come back. Some time later, a girl he has evidently impregnated abandons her baby at Yunseok's house. (hide spoiler)] The Writer - A writer must finish a novel or face getting sued by his publishing company since he has already spent his advance. The owner of the company turns out to be a fan of his and lets him use his presumably unused home in the US so he can focus on writing. (view spoiler)[ However, the owner's wife also owns the house and arrives unexpectedly - she ends up sleeping with the writer to spite her husband, which ignites a surge of inspiration and days of obsessive writing for the writer. The owner shows up and decides he's going to kill the both of them, and things get weird. (hide spoiler)]

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Diary of a Murderer is a solid and intriguing collection of short stories each with a different focus and oftentimes genre from award-winning South Korean sensation, Kim Young-ha. The four stories that comprise the book are diverse and create some fascinating dynamics between some of the characters featured, and Mr Young-ha is a mighty talented genre-spanning/pan-genre writer whose plots were engaging with each separate tale being written superbly well. Of course, the age-old issue we tend to di Diary of a Murderer is a solid and intriguing collection of short stories each with a different focus and oftentimes genre from award-winning South Korean sensation, Kim Young-ha. The four stories that comprise the book are diverse and create some fascinating dynamics between some of the characters featured, and Mr Young-ha is a mighty talented genre-spanning/pan-genre writer whose plots were engaging with each separate tale being written superbly well. Of course, the age-old issue we tend to discover time and time again with anthologies rears its ugly head once more here; some of the stories are better or more suited to your tastes than others. That said, I feel there is a little something to capture the imagination of anyone in this strange and exotic collection. It really showcases Young-ha's incredible versatility as writing in so many different genres and sub-genres is not exactly a feat many writers can achieve successfully or pull off with the considerable aplomb that the author manages here. Korean-English translator Krys Lee also deserves an honourable mention as it is widely recognised that the care taken over the translation can be so powerful that the book can be a resounding success or failure on that bone/point of contention alone and I felt sufficient care and due diligence was taken here. This was far from a conventional taster; filled with dark, unsettling, profoundly atmospheric scenes and written in rich prose laced with humour as black and bleak as the starless sky. This is a deeply quirky and somewhat bizarre book of stories and given my love of weird Asian surrealist literature this was right from the get-go straight up my alley. It was certainly not straightforward, boring or lacklustre; I found myself a bit like a child at Christmas swiftly discovering and uncovering surprises. I loved not knowing what was around the corner in each of the stories. It's safe to say that this selection has piqued my interest enough to want to check out more of his back catalogue and I have already purchased his other titles in English. I indeed hope that his other novels will follow suit in the future. Many thanks to Atlantic for an ARC.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Interesting. I'll be giving this more thought. Review on the way. Interesting. I'll be giving this more thought. Review on the way.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mobyskine

    Little synopsis and individual reviews of the contents: Diary of A Murderer (novella) "Just like students keep a notebook with all their test mistakes, I also kept meticulous records of every step of my murders and what I felt about them." I love the uniqueness of the character. Byeongsu is a retired serial killer, at age 70 he suffered terminal Alzheimer and living with his daughter at a country side owning a bamboo forest behind his little house, the place where he claimed that he buried all his Little synopsis and individual reviews of the contents: Diary of A Murderer (novella) "Just like students keep a notebook with all their test mistakes, I also kept meticulous records of every step of my murders and what I felt about them." I love the uniqueness of the character. Byeongsu is a retired serial killer, at age 70 he suffered terminal Alzheimer and living with his daughter at a country side owning a bamboo forest behind his little house, the place where he claimed that he buried all his victims. Some incidents and tragedies happened. I was impressed with the narrative as it gripped me a lot with exciting confession and truth, twists and playful thoughts of a forgetful serial killer. Devastating at some point, entertaining at another. I think the author did well in portraying the personalities of each characters-- they flowed smoothly with the narrative that I find it engaging and sometimes heart-warming. The thing that I really fancy was how the author crafted his story telling so well that I never once felt it was draggy or boring. I could give this novella alone a full star rating. The Origin of Life A story of a guy who met his first love again, thought he was having an affair with her as she was married but realised that it was more complicated than that. Emotionally stirring and psychological-- involved issues on abuse and suicidal, quite dramatic and metaphorical. A slice of life genre that revolved on the guy's way of thinking. Missing Child A story of a couple that lost their son during a mall outing. Horrifyingly engaging and it showed how the incident could affect one's emotion terribly. Fast-paced and I appreciate how the author trying his best to give a definite closure to the story. With all the fast forward and aftermath tragedy, I somehow love the ending. It seems like Yunseok been given a second chance to care and love a child again. The Writer My favorite among the short stories. Hilarious and intriguing. A writer who suffered a writer's block, having a failed marriage and broke. Too much incidents happened and the plot changed from slice of life to dirty romance to magical realism-- a fun roller coaster narrative. I personally love the collection a lot, descriptive and amusingly thrilled ideas. Somehow love the author's style, also the translation was done quite well too.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    ‘Imagine it like a freight car hurtling along without knowing the rails are cut off ahead. What do you think will happen? Won’t the train and the freight pile up where the tracks stop? And it will end in total chaos, won’t it? Sir, this is exactly what’s happening inside your head right now.’ Read as part of the #ouryearintranslation prompt #juneinkorea this is a collection of short stories leading with the titular story of a former serial killer who in his seventies is suffering from Alzheimer’s ‘Imagine it like a freight car hurtling along without knowing the rails are cut off ahead. What do you think will happen? Won’t the train and the freight pile up where the tracks stop? And it will end in total chaos, won’t it? Sir, this is exactly what’s happening inside your head right now.’ Read as part of the #ouryearintranslation prompt #juneinkorea this is a collection of short stories leading with the titular story of a former serial killer who in his seventies is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and begins to believe his daughter’s new boyfriend may also be a serial killer, with this thought he decides it may be time to come out of retirement. This is a collection with dark themes such as mental illness, murder, adultery and domestic abuse. These biting stories feature a fragmented style, unreliable narrators and relationships that are disturbed by secrets, absences and mental disorders. Young-Ha peels back the veil between the public lives of the characters and their private lives, the secrets, delusions and paranoias that define and control them. This wasn’t a book that I was really excited to keep picking up to read, which I think is less to do with the writing style (which I thought was immaculately translated) and more to do with the kind of bleak themes which I perhaps wasn’t in the mood for - nonetheless this is a really memorable, punchy and unique short story collection that I would recommend and I would definitely read more by this author as I found it to be quite an incisive social commentary with the kind of twisted point of view that I really enjoy⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rezza Dwi

    Interesting! 😆

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karen Germain

    On a recent visit to Powell’s Books in Portland, I was perusing the crime/mystery section and Korean author, Young-Ha Kim’s short story collection, Diary of a Murderer and Other Stories, caught my eye. I like to go opposite with my reading seasons, disturbing in the summer, and light-hearted in the winter. You can’t feel too dark when you’re sunbathing with a Mai Tai in one hand and crime novel in the other! The collection begins with the title story, Diary of a Murderer. This is the longest sto On a recent visit to Powell’s Books in Portland, I was perusing the crime/mystery section and Korean author, Young-Ha Kim’s short story collection, Diary of a Murderer and Other Stories, caught my eye. I like to go opposite with my reading seasons, disturbing in the summer, and light-hearted in the winter. You can’t feel too dark when you’re sunbathing with a Mai Tai in one hand and crime novel in the other! The collection begins with the title story, Diary of a Murderer. This is the longest story in the collection and it was my favorite for its strong narrative voice and intriguing premise. It follows a former serial killer, who has gotten away with his crimes, but now has Alzheimers. He is cognizant enough of his disease to worry that he might accidentally reveal himself, yet far gone enough to be living in a fantasy world, where he believes that his daughter’s new boyfriend is a fellow serial killer. His daughter is also a secret that he keeps, as he adopted the girl when she was a child, kidnapping her after killing her mother. His unreliable memory forces him to walk on egg shells. This serial killer who has caused so many people fear, now fears himself. It’s a great story idea and Kim does a fantastic job at keeping the tension. I felt both disgust and empathy towards the main character. He is a great anti-hero. The second story in the collection is called, The Origin of Life. This story details a love triangle, where a woman in an abusive relationship manipulates her childhood friend to help her. I felt this was the weakest story in the collection, although Kim’s writing is so skilled, that it still kept my interest. Missing Child explores the idea of a kidnapped child being returned to his parents after many years. The son is now a preteen and he is not the boy that his parents imagined that he would become. Would he have been like this all along? Or did the nurture part of the upbringing that he had with his kidnapper, over take the nature, the biology from his parents? What happens when your missing child is returned and it is not the happy occasion that you imagined? This story was fascinating and intensely emotional. The lives of the characters are utterly destroyed from one incident. The theme of child abduction is also carried over from Diary of a Murder, making these two stories solid companion pieces. The last story is The Writer, about a novelist with mental health issues. The novelist is an unreliable narrator who is spiraling out of control, imagining a torrid relationship with the ex-wife of his would-be publisher. This is also a great companion to the title story, as both deal with unreliable narrators and mental health. Kim is a new-to-me writer discovery. I enjoyed the intensity of his stories and surprising story arcs. He crafts vivid, emotionally wrought characters that I will not soon forget. I highly recommend Diary of a Murderer and Other Stories. Like my review? Check out my blog!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sharm

    When I first picked up the book, I didn’t notice that it was a short story collection. But I enjoy the open endings to some of the stories. It leaves room for my own imagination to complete it however I want. I personally like reading crime & thriller books, it holds my interest better than other genres would. For the diary of a murderer, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to read about the various murderer’s pov on the crime. However, there are a few stories that were a little dry. Nonetheless I would When I first picked up the book, I didn’t notice that it was a short story collection. But I enjoy the open endings to some of the stories. It leaves room for my own imagination to complete it however I want. I personally like reading crime & thriller books, it holds my interest better than other genres would. For the diary of a murderer, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to read about the various murderer’s pov on the crime. However, there are a few stories that were a little dry. Nonetheless I would still recommend this book to those who want a fresh crime thriller read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Holly Tracy

    The “Diary of a Murderer” part was dry, but intriguing enough...but the “and Other Stories” part made me want to be a murderer. The final one, The Writer, is what really did me in. I actually shouted out loud at one point, “does this ever end?!!” It is impossibly boring and drawn out, told like like a fable but 742 times longer than it should have been, with a main character who is just a stupid, self-involved shit.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gretel

    3.5 stars. Edit below. The main protagonist, 70-year-old Mr. Kim, is a serial killer. Or rather used to be because he stopped murdering 25 years ago. On the news Kim sees that women are being murdered. Because they shown the same marks and other charasteristics, police think it must be a serial killer. One night, while out driving, Kim backs up into another car that belongs to a certain Park. Kim reckognises him and knows: this is the new serial killer in town. To protect his daughter Unhi, Kim d 3.5 stars. Edit below. The main protagonist, 70-year-old Mr. Kim, is a serial killer. Or rather used to be because he stopped murdering 25 years ago. On the news Kim sees that women are being murdered. Because they shown the same marks and other charasteristics, police think it must be a serial killer. One night, while out driving, Kim backs up into another car that belongs to a certain Park. Kim reckognises him and knows: this is the new serial killer in town. To protect his daughter Unhi, Kim decides to kill Park first. The onle problem is, Kim suffers from dementia and his memory loss becomes a run against time. Will he kill Park before he forgets everything? The novel is written as a collection of short diary entries, only a few sentences long at maximum. Kim talks about his previous killings and philosophises on the nature of evil. Despite this, you never fully know why he committed the murders because Kim only says that he derived pleasure from murdering. But why did he? The novel gives hints at possible motives and psychological trauma that led to a life filled with murder but full answer is ever given and that's actually good because it forces the reader to think and decide for themselves. As his dementia worseness, his grip on reality starts suffering, too. Kim (the author) really captures how it is to forget and sometimes swim in an ocean of uncertainty, confusion and paranoia. Untethered from the present because he's losing short-term memory and thus devoid of any future as he can't make new memories, Kim (the killer) drifts and takes us with him. There are quite a few interesting twists and turns and following the narrative is remarkable. I won't go into details as not to spoil anything but Kim (the author) knows how to pull the rug from under your feet. You're stumbling blindly into the life of a former serial killer, whose victims are buried in his bamboo grove, and can never fully grasp the situation. Honestly, as far as representation of dementia goes, this is pretty well done and accurate. A friend has been working with people with dementia for years so I learned a lot through conversations and my own research. Kim (the author) did a good job of capturing the mind of a person who is losing it to an illness. I'd recommend this if you're interested in contemporary Korean literature and a thriller with a unique twist. The book is short, accessible and interesting, giving a great opportunity for a quick and engaging read. EDIT: I just saw in the author description that the author lost his memories before the age of ten due to an accident and...that explains a lot. I was just thinking how well Kim (the author) captured dementia and the inevitability of losing your identity to memory loss. The pain, confusion and disorientation. How devastating it is to lose something that makes you the person you are and still continue to fight. How memory loss is connected to (fear of) death, trauma and anxiety. Yes, Kim writes from the perspective of a serial killer and there's no excuse for the murders, yet you still feel sorry for his dementia and this is due to the fact that Kim makes us just as confused and lost with the way he's written the story. We feel sorry because WE feel adrift and disoriented. We're grasping wildly in the hopes of understanding what's going on. Dementia might be the proper punishment for the serial killer but damn if Kim doesn't make you really ponder if the punishment is fair by making you live through it. Was justice served? That's up for each reader to decide.

  23. 4 out of 5

    biblio_mom (Aiza)

    I did not realised at first it was a collection of four short stories. I definitely would have given 4 stars for the first short stories, which is the longest one. The title of this book was taken from the first story, Diary of A Murderer. It follows an old serial killer, a former veterinarian, Byeongsu, whose slowly losing his memories due to dementia. He could remembered vividly of his older memories of killing so many innocent people but lost his immediate present memories that live him in an I did not realised at first it was a collection of four short stories. I definitely would have given 4 stars for the first short stories, which is the longest one. The title of this book was taken from the first story, Diary of A Murderer. It follows an old serial killer, a former veterinarian, Byeongsu, whose slowly losing his memories due to dementia. He could remembered vividly of his older memories of killing so many innocent people but lost his immediate present memories that live him in an endless confusion. He takes pleasure in killings, so God punished him by not remembering. He live with his foster daughter, Eunhui, whose one day disappeared out of trace. Byeongsu believed she was killed by a man named Pak JuTae. The plot twist is so brilliant that it took my breath away. I did not see it coming! I literally need to stop for a while and gathered my strength to keep on reading. The third short story is Missing Child which I like too. Its about a couple missing their son while shopping. The polica found him 10 years later with matching DNA, but different name. What turns me off completely is the last story. I don't like it even a bit. Clearly because thriller with graphic erotic scenes is not for me. So, heads up! This is not for you young readers! I would recommend this to the adult readers especially those who like thrillers. The first story is enough and worth buying this book. Thank You Pansing Distributor for this review copy!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Arango

    "I killed people for thirty years straight. I was very diligent back then. Now that the statute of limitations has passed, I could even go blab about what I'd done. If this were America, I could probably publish a memoir. People would attack me. Let them, if they want. It's not like I have many days left." . I picked up this novella & short story collection because I had enough Google Play credits to get it for free, and I wanted something to help me escape the stress of quarantining and waiting t "I killed people for thirty years straight. I was very diligent back then. Now that the statute of limitations has passed, I could even go blab about what I'd done. If this were America, I could probably publish a memoir. People would attack me. Let them, if they want. It's not like I have many days left." . I picked up this novella & short story collection because I had enough Google Play credits to get it for free, and I wanted something to help me escape the stress of quarantining and waiting to see if my boo got infected or not at work. (His test is tomorrow.) I had seen DIARY OF A MURDERER on @booksonthel 's page, and the free sample online intrigued me enough to give it a shot. The title novella is about a retired serial killer with Alzheimer's, and it was absolutely my favorite, but all the other stories, which deal with loss and mental health and death and loneliness, swept me up too. The book reminded me a bit of both Haruki Murakami's and Samanta Schweblin's short stories, so if you're a fan of both or either, I recommend you check this one out. The book definitely has mixed reviews on Goodreads, but I personally thought it was a solid collection, and I would happily check out other work by this author in the future.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wenda

    What on earth happened here... It's been a good long while since I have been this surprised by an ending, and then twice in one collection of four short stories. It only took me a few hours to finish them, I barely looked up, they were so riveting. And rather disturbing. Kim Young-Ha is a very powerful writer, and Krys Lee is a very talented translator. The fast, clipped writing was so elegant and easy to read, it's hard to put into words what skill must lie behind these innocuous looking pages. What on earth happened here... It's been a good long while since I have been this surprised by an ending, and then twice in one collection of four short stories. It only took me a few hours to finish them, I barely looked up, they were so riveting. And rather disturbing. Kim Young-Ha is a very powerful writer, and Krys Lee is a very talented translator. The fast, clipped writing was so elegant and easy to read, it's hard to put into words what skill must lie behind these innocuous looking pages. The twists and turns in each story will keep you on your toes, not in the least in the titular story about a serial killer who has been 'retired' for twenty-five years, and is now suffering from losing his memories and his control to Alzheimer's. Awkwardly, you start to empathize with him as he tries to protect his daughter Eunhui and will by the end feel deeply for him despite his deeds. However outlandish the storylines - though never unbelievable - the characters behave very realistically which causes so many conflicting emotions. It made me think about them long after I finished reading, made them come alive more than you'd expect after so few pages per story. I'm hoping to find more books by the same author, that's for sure. Ready to get my mind blown again.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Allie

    4.5* - This story collection captured my heart in under 100 pages each! Young-Ha Kim put together a collection of four unique, creatively written, and thought provoking novellas into one book. Diary of a Murderer - By far the strongest of the four, and the longest, it allows us into the mind of a serial killer as he is diagnosed with dementia. He becomes convinced that his daughter is about to marry a man who is also a serial killer, currently active in their neighborhood in Korea. As the story 4.5* - This story collection captured my heart in under 100 pages each! Young-Ha Kim put together a collection of four unique, creatively written, and thought provoking novellas into one book. Diary of a Murderer - By far the strongest of the four, and the longest, it allows us into the mind of a serial killer as he is diagnosed with dementia. He becomes convinced that his daughter is about to marry a man who is also a serial killer, currently active in their neighborhood in Korea. As the story continues, the man's dementia gets worse and he becomes more and more confused, and by the end you are unsure who or what to believe. A truly captivating narrative told quickly over 100 pages. One I will definitely go back and read again. Origin of Life - The second and shortest of the stories, it follows two childhood sweethearts as they find each other again as adults, one still pining for the other, one in an abusive relationship. This explores who we are to someone compared to who they are to us. Not bad, beautifully written, but not my favorite. Missing Child - What happens when a normal day turns into the day that defines you. This is what is explored in the third story, when a young son is kidnapped in a shopping mall, only to be found and returned to them 10 years later. It explores how a family is forced to come back together after a decade of living in completely different worlds, dealing with the grief of the lives that were lost, and figuring out how to move forward in their new normal. The Writer - The final of the stories centers on an emotionally detached, former best selling writer, as he is being pressure by his ex wife (and current editor) to write his next novel. When he moves to his publishers New York home for inspiration, the story centers on the writer, his publisher, and the publisher's estranged wife, and how a stroke of inspiration can drive someone to the edge of insanity. Overall, I was excited and enthralled by this collection of works. I have already looked into other stories by this author and hope that they maintain the same level of realism and integrity as this one does. A strong voice out of South Korea, he tells stories that are just far enough out of reach that they hit frighteningly close to home.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Naaytaashreads

    Disclaimer: I receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. “People want to understand evil. A pointless desire. Evil is like a rainbow. It retreats at the same pace as your approach. Evil is evil because you can't understand it.” Its hard to rate this book because its a compilation of short stories in one book. If I can be completely honest, I feel like the first story was the only one I really enjoyed. The rest wasn't enjoyable enough but it was still interesting. However the Disclaimer: I receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. “People want to understand evil. A pointless desire. Evil is like a rainbow. It retreats at the same pace as your approach. Evil is evil because you can't understand it.” Its hard to rate this book because its a compilation of short stories in one book. If I can be completely honest, I feel like the first story was the only one I really enjoyed. The rest wasn't enjoyable enough but it was still interesting. However the writing of the book still give me the chills and creeps. “There isn’t much I do well. I excel at only one thing, but it’s the kind I can’t brag about. Think of the countless people who end up in the grave proud of something they can never share with others.”

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    About 2 weeks ago, I started a mission to find a collection of short stories that I would actually finish. I have read short stories in school and have tried a variety of collections that I always end up DNFing. The last collections I finished and enjoyed were Raymond Carver's books I read in my early 20s. I picked Diary of a Murderer because there are only 4 stories and it wasn't something I had seen promoted everywhere. Plus, macabre scenarios and unreliable narrators are fun as hell. So, miss About 2 weeks ago, I started a mission to find a collection of short stories that I would actually finish. I have read short stories in school and have tried a variety of collections that I always end up DNFing. The last collections I finished and enjoyed were Raymond Carver's books I read in my early 20s. I picked Diary of a Murderer because there are only 4 stories and it wasn't something I had seen promoted everywhere. Plus, macabre scenarios and unreliable narrators are fun as hell. So, mission accomplished!!! These stories are atmospheric lil mind fucks and I highly recommend.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Yoshay Lama Lindblom

    This is a must read for everyone who enjoys short stories and novellas that are both beautiful and disturbing. It's about society's rigid systems that rather crack than grow pliable. And it's about people who fall through those cracks. Suffering is inevitable and unbearably excruciating, but there is some kind of relief in the hope that breaks in right when you think you've reached the very end of your forbearance. This is a must read for everyone who enjoys short stories and novellas that are both beautiful and disturbing. It's about society's rigid systems that rather crack than grow pliable. And it's about people who fall through those cracks. Suffering is inevitable and unbearably excruciating, but there is some kind of relief in the hope that breaks in right when you think you've reached the very end of your forbearance.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emm

    I picked this up on a whim after getting a new library card at my reciprocal library and I really enjoyed it! I had never heard about this writer before but I thoroughly enjoyed his work in this short story collection and intend to seek out his other works as well. He has interesting ideas and ways of connecting everything together, and my favorites where the title story and the final story "The Writer." All in all, super glad to have found this writer and will definitely be coming back for more I picked this up on a whim after getting a new library card at my reciprocal library and I really enjoyed it! I had never heard about this writer before but I thoroughly enjoyed his work in this short story collection and intend to seek out his other works as well. He has interesting ideas and ways of connecting everything together, and my favorites where the title story and the final story "The Writer." All in all, super glad to have found this writer and will definitely be coming back for more!

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