By Kyung-Ran Jo
(Bloomsbury USA, Paperback, 9781596916517, 224pp.)
Publication Date: June 23, 2009
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An erotically charged, elegantly written novel that marks the first publication in English of author Kyung-Ran Jo, a literary star in Korea who has earned comparisons to Haruki Murakami.Emotionally raw and emphatically sensual, Tongue is the story of the demise of an obsessive romance and a woman’s culinary journey toward self-restoration and revenge. When her boyfriend of seven years leaves her for another woman, the celebrated young chef Jung Ji-won shuts down the cooking school she ran from their home and sinks into deep depression, losing her will to cook, her desire to eat, and even her ability to taste. Returning to the kitchen of the I talian restaurant where her career first began, she slowly rebuilds her life, rediscovering her appreciation of food, both as nourishment and as sensual pleasure. She also starts to devise a plan for a final, vengeful act of culinary seduction. Tongue is a voluptuous, intimate story of a gourmet relying on her food-centric worldview to emerge from heartbreak; a mesmerizing, delicately plotted novel at once shocking and profoundly familiar.
Kyung-Ran Jo was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1969. She earned a degree in creative writing from Seoul Institute of the Arts and has participated in the University of Iowa’s renowned International Writing Program. Since her fiction debut at age twenty-eight, she has earned numerous literary awards, including the Today’s Young Artist Prize from the South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism as well as the Dong-in L iterary Award for her newest shortstory collection, I Bought Balloons. Tongue, an immediate bestseller in South Korea, is her first novel to be translated
"[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