I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Kim Young Ha
Published July 2nd 2007 by Mariner Books
Summary: I don’t encourage murder. I have no interest in one person killing another. I only want to draw out morbid desires, imprisoned deep in the unconscious. This lust, once freed, starts growing. Their imaginations run free, and they soon discover their potential… They are waiting for someone like me.
A spectral, nameless narrator haunts the lost and wounded of big-city Seoul, suggesting solace in suicide. Wandering through the bright lights of their high-urban existence, C and K are brothers who fall in love with the same woman – Se-yeon. As their lives intersect, they tear at each other in a struggle to find connection in their fast-paced, atomized world.
Dreamlike and cinematic, I Have the Right to Destroy Myself brilliantly affirms Young-ha Kim as Korea’s leading young literary master.
Review: I admit, I read this book on the basis that he was a Korean author (I’ve been wanting to read more Korean authors since reading and falling in love with Please Take Care of Mother) and that he was coming to 2013’s Singapore Writers Festival (which I will be going to come November!). This book was originally written in Korean, and was later translated into English.
The plot involves our nameless narrator who advises his “clients” on the best method to commit suicide. The narrator then introduces us to some of our key characters from his novel that we can only assume are his client’s stories pre-suicide. We’re introduced to brothers C and K who have fallen in love with the same woman “Judith” who is later re-introduced as Seyeon. The story is told simply in perspectives of the two brothers and their relationship with Judith and how their lives changed upon meeting Judith, and later intertwined.
While there were many aspects of the book that I really enjoyed, I noticed how similar the female characters in the book were. All three women introduced in the book were strange, quirky and walked to the beat of their own drum. From Chupa Chup obsessions (even sucking on them during sex), to the strange girl that vomits when she drinks plain water and lastly to artist, Mimi. Realistically, its a little hard to imagine girls doing these things – but then again, sometimes, there are a lot stranger things…
The book is a little pretentious in aspects, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good book. It was a bit of a stimulating read and gives you a bit of a thought. What conditions were these girls in that drove them to be like this? Why do they come off as being “unable to love” or “lacking in feelings”? These girls who committed suicide didn’t seem depressed but rather longing for something, anything. Maybe something interesting, perhaps. They seem lost, and unknowing of what their purpose of living is.
The book is only about 100+ pages long, so I would recommend you to try picking this up and giving it a chance. This is an adult fiction and does contain sexual content, suicide and such – it is a bit on the darker side so if you’re comfortable with these, do pick it up!