Winter in Sokcho

by Elisa Shua Dusapin is set in Sokcho, a beach town that sits close to the North Korean border. The narrator is an unnamed woman whose heritage is half-Korean and half-European; her French father left her mother after a brief affair. When a French stranger arrives, off-season, at the guest house where the narrator works, she’s intrigued by his presence, his Frenchness, and the way he suggests and mirrors her own past. Her relationship with him defies cliché and easy categorization. In her own life, the narrator has ambivalent feelings about marriage to her long-distance boyfriend, the aspiring model Jun-oh, and about her decision to leave Seoul to care for her mother. Told in vignettes and excellent at capturing the atmosphere of the narrator’s life and surroundings, Winter in Sokcho is beautifully written.