Author: Giacomo Lee
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dark Comedy
First published: March 30th 2015
Finished reading: April 10th 2015
“Sleep is the true rehearsal for death, Soobin thought with a sigh. That’s why grandma had more dreams of the future the older she got, for death is the future of all things, coming back towards us like a feedback loop.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
Just as I was thinking about the fact that I’m not reading enough stories set in Asia, I was contacted by Typhoon Media Ltd. to read and review Funereal. This book written by Giacomo Lee is set in modern.day South Korea, and it’s definitely a refreshing read. Other books I’ve read that are set in Korea have had mostly Western main characters or are about the Korean War, but Giacomo Lee chose to show us the dark side to the modern day capial of Seoul instead, complete with Korean main characters. It’s an almost surreal picture of a city where plastic surgery, suicide and the struggle to fit in are part of the daily life. The Korean culture is different from our own Western one, and from what I could tell with my limited knowledge of that culture, the author was able to give a convincing image of their competitiveness and their drive for reaching perfection both physically and psychologically. The prose is interesting, and even though at times it wasn’t that easy to understand the bigger picture, I still highly enjoyed reading this novel. Definitely an interesting read full of references to the hi-tech and music world!
Soobin Shin is looking for an interesting job ever since her college graduation, but she doesn’t have any luck so far. She seems to be stuck with her job in a doughnut store, while her twin sister Hyewon is one of Korea’s famous models… Then one evening, one of the doughnut store’s clients offers her a job in his new company, saying that she has ‘the perfect smile. Perfect for the friendly face of death’. Although she is not sure about what to think of the customer, she still agrees to meet him. The company, OneLife Korea, is ment to save South Korea of its depressions… One funeral at the time. Soobin Shin is supposed to become the face of the company, where she will help clients getting over their depressions by burying them alive and let them attend their own funeral. South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the developed world, and Soobin agrees to try and help bring that number down. Everything seems to work perfectly, until the clients actually start dying…
This is not your typical read and it definitely touches some interesting themes. We live in a world that is increasingly hi-tec and plastic, where anything less than perfect is seen negatively. Peer pressure increases and that could definitely lead to a situation as described in Funereal where suicide rates have gone through the roof. The prose Giacomo Lee used to describe his story helps creating the hi-tech and surreal world of Seoul where people pay to attend their own funeral. Funereal is without doubt worth reading if you like (literary) fiction and sci-fi! If you are interested, the paperback version is available starting tomorrow, April 14th.