By Kyung Ran Jo
Translated by Chi-Young Kim
Devastatingly depressing and sensually mouthwatering, our recently left-behind chef closes her cooking school and returns to the restaurant where she began her cooking career to rebuild a life and take back her sense of taste.
The entire book persists around her obsessive wallowing over a piece-of-shit ex-boyfriend and inability to kickstart the moving-on process. Towards the end she is able to gain a sense of realization and formulates a sickening plan for revenge.
Perhaps because I was dealing with the exact situation our protagonist was going through in Tongue, I got emotionally invested in this book pretty hard core. It’s a lot of wallowing, regret, self-deprecation, etc. It’s not a fun read, by any stretch. But if you’ve ever been burned in love, you’ll relate. I had to walk away from this book a number of times, because it just felt too real. All the characters were amazingly messed up (though somehow seemed kind of average).
Taking place in an Italian Gourmand kitchen in Korea, There’s a sensual element of cultural food fusion and flavor descriptions that will leave you salivating; even if you haven’t eaten for days, which, sadly, was the boat I was in at time of reading. It fed me.
In a weird way, it helped me transition a from being a complete emotional trainwreck over someone who didn’t deserve me into someone who was OK enough to walk away from the internal drama of it all. Oh, behold the power of a book!
I wouldn’t love anything more than to be serving my ex a steaming plateful of that homewrecker’s misery, but even I, at the end of the story, plopped the book down with my head in my hands thinking that’s fucked up. After a moment of introspection reminding myself I’m not a criminal and don’t need to become one, I got up and went about something life-related in a way that I hadn’t been able to in days. This trainwreck of a story is actually kind of therapeutic. Recommended for the left behind!