edgier than Min Sook whatever's [b:Free Food for Millionaires|709734|Free Food for Millionaires|Min Jin Lee|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328038874s/709734.jpg|3343234], Suki Kim's 2003 Interpreter makes no excuses for her post-college doldrums and her characters engage in more illicit sex without compunction. this is a Barnard girl! New York creates more gotham-y people than Harrrvard, a cooler and more streetwise sensibility. Kim's prose has the advantage of a more jaded and 'cooler' tone, resulting even in the first page in some neat prose. the thing flows. it has twists.
high 3/5, near 4. like many NY ethnic writers, Kim is fascinated by the minutiae of the Immigrant Experience, but whereas [b:Oscar Wao|297673|The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao|Junot Díaz|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1349041446s/297673.jpg|3281466] broadens this out to post-modern word games and a true universal appeal (and hence bestseller status), Kim delivers straight fiction leavened only with some daring in stance and word choice. it's annoying that the 'ethnic writer' does not "get it" that majority writers are not 'celebrating' dominant culture. David Mitchell is not celebrating England or Englishishism (per intent). he is telling us a story, and somewhere along the line, purely unintentionally, the greater complexity/superiority of anglo-saxon culture is demonstrated, without any attempt or desire to do so. he is, furthermore, experimenting with form, with voice, with story-telling technique. the beat-up ethnic (particularly the Korean) is "responding back" to West culture with a sort of "I can be tough too" creation, but they're just delivering straight narrative, not seeing that they're missing the opportunity to elicit a new literature, a new consciousness, or a new literary breakthrough. there's no post-modernism here. there's no Dissociation Identity Disorder mind-screw. there's no Vonnegut iconclasm or Atwood slipstream creativity. it's just 3pm on a rainy sunday in montauk over and over again. korean fiction also heavily marked by "small store/ dry cleaner / fruit stand" perspective. [a:Chang Rae Lee|21050|Chang-rae Lee|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1266544736p2/21050.jpg] remains the only KA author to have successfully integrated this into a bigger than life novel. and unlike, say, 'invisible man,' there is no larger grasp of america. just another latte. just another montauk.
Suki Kim is still a leap skip and a jump ahead of free food for millionaires, but this is a passable work, and unnecessary for any but a specialist audience. near 4. does not have a stunner close. some notable skill in even the first page, 'neat' prose; 'edgy' prose, smart things done here and there. but [b:Native Speaker|298664|Native Speaker|Chang-rae Lee|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348329273s/298664.jpg|1595973] still the benchmark here, and to some degree this book is a repetition. not an incompetent story-teller, but doesn't quite deserve the 4, and doesn't get deep into the skin of the reader.