This week I took a break from the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist to read a book that just showed up in my mailbox at home. Obviously someone in our house ordered it, but neither my husband or I remember doing so. The book is Jung-Myung Lee’s The Investigation, and I highly recommend it to all booklovers.
Why read it now? The Investigation has been getting a fair bit of attention this year thanks to its inclusion on the International Foreign Fiction Prize longlist.
What’s the story? A 19-year old prison guard Watanabe is put in charge of investigating his sadistic partner’s murder. The investigation brings him close to the secret heart of the prison, and causes him to question the treatment of the Japanese prison’s Korean inmates.
What would I compare it too? My experience falling in love with this book reminded me of The Shadow of the Wind. Both do an excellent job describing what it is to be in love with books, and both do so in the genre of a thriller. The two novels both have small moments of exultant joy within crushing realities. And both are set in the 1940s.
Why did I love it? The story is a combination of two things I love: a page-turning thriller and a celebration of language. Within the novel are bits of poetry written by real-life Korean poet Yun Dong-ju — an inmate, and heartwrenching images that will stay with me for a long time.
Want to know more about The Investigation? Read this interview with the author in which he talks about the story behind The Investigation.