Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop

Bloomsbury. Feb. 2024. 320p. tr. from Korean by Shanna Tan. ISBN 9781639732425. $28.99. F
DEBUT Bo-reum’s debut novel is a comfortable book about books. Yeongju flees her corporate job, her family, and her friends to open a bookstore. She spends months—a few pages in this novel—hiding out in her new shop, making customers worry about this sad bookseller instead of purchasing books. Librarians and booksellers will identify with the bookshop’s journey from full shelves and no customers to becoming a warm heart of the community. Much of the earlier half of Hwang’s novel follows Yeongju’s attempts to increase traffic to her shop by creating a social media presence, scheduling enticing programs, and building a café space. As Yeongju’s community begins to grow, new characters are fleshed out over several chapters before gaining their own POV segments. Here readers learn that the story is really about people finding their paths in life, as Hwang’s haracters learn to appreciate their own needs and desires and to seek happiness, even though it isn’t guaranteed. This is portrayed in abrupt sentences peppered with Korean romanizations and British slang.
VERDICT Bound to be a book club favorite.
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