From Publishers Weekly
In this plodding, reflective novel, bestselling Korean author Jo's first to be translated into English, a young cook spurned in love works her way out of a depressed stupor and up to an implausible, violent act of revenge. Talented cook Jeong Ji-won and her longtime boyfriend, Han Seok-Ju, run a cooking school together, but after he leaves her for an ex-model, Ji-won falls into a funk and returns to the kitchen at Nove, an Italian restaurant where she had previously worked. There, she gradually restores her confidence in life and with a knife. But circumstances surrounding the death of Seok-Ju's dog lead Ji-won to commit a puzzling and violent act of revenge. The narrative's heavy reliance on reminiscing and ruminations about food shortchanges character development; particularly troubling is how little is revealed about Seok-Ju (we do know, however, that he likes steak), so Ji-won's reasons for wanting him back feel hollow and make her grotesque revenge plan tough to swallow. There's more fat than meat on this one. (July)
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"[A] surprising and nuanced novel... reminiscent of Banana Yoshimoto's cult classic Kitchen... It's a clever debut; a simple-looking dish from the outside that, once you bite in, reveals hidden layers and complexity — and a shockingly bitter finish." —NPR.org
"A sumptuous feast."—Kirkus
"Food is a well-traveled literary metaphor, but here, in a translation by Chi-Young Kim, Jo does marvelous and disturbing things with it, serving up dishes rich with a variety of feelings... And of course there's the most powerful of dishes, the one all the recipes say is best served cold... Buon appetito." —New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)
"There are meals that have the power to seduce your taste buds, then your imagination. This is how Kyung Ran Jo writes. Tongue's elegant, erotic tale of heartbreak satisfies just like a perfect meal, then more, because here the last course isn't dessert, but revenge." —Sharon Krum, author of The Thing About Jane Spring