The Boy Who Escaped Paradise by J.M. Lee, translated by Chi-Young Kim [in Library Journal]
“There’s magic in this world. And miracles.” In his second translated work to hit stateside (after The Investigation), bestselling Korean author J.M. Lee – again linguistically enabled by gifted translator Chi-Young Kim – will make you believe.
Lee’s silent protagonist sits in a New York City cell, accused of murder and terrorism, his more notable possessions including four fake passports and 19 pages of mathematical formulas written in an unidentifiable language. The nurse in charge interrupts the aggressive FBI interrogation to care for his gunshot wound.
Under her ministrations over the next seven days, the suspect will prove how “[n]umbers reveal our secrets,” divulging a quest that originates in North Korea and lands in North America, with stopovers in China, Macau, South Korea, and Mexico, as the protagonist moves through a prison camp, casinos, hotel rooms, action flicks, and international markets – all to fulfill a childhood promise of everlasting care (and love).
Channeling timeless quests from The Odyssey on, while highly reminiscent of the contemporary cult classic Vikas Swarup’s Q&A (the literary inspiration for celluloid sensation Slumdog Millionaire), Lee’s latest should guarantee exponential growth among savvy Western audiences searching for a universal story with global connections. In a phrase, read this.
Review: modified from “Fiction,” Library Journal, November 15, 2016