A study of human relationships and how they are impacted by the mysterious death of a nineteen-year-old, Lemon is a short, slow-paced read that will leave you asking questions about what lurks beneath a person’s calm demeanour.
Read if you like: books that are not plot-driven, ambiguous endings, multi-POV chapters, a subdued mystery, short reads
Sometimes you read a book and can never fully understand what it is that you have read or what exactly transpired in it. That’s what reading Lemon was like for me.
Based on the reviews of the book, I was prepared to not like it. But I actually really like the approach Kwon Yeo-Sun has taken in making the lives of the people left behind a bigger focus than the whodunnit aspect of the mystery.
The few chapters in the novel alternate between the points of view of three women – Da-on, Sang-hui, and Taeri – who have some connection to the deceased student, Hae-on.
Each of their character voice has been well-developed, so much so that after reading a single chapter from their POV, it was easy for me to identify who is narrating the next chapter.
Considering it’s centred around a murder, the author does place suspicion on multiple characters. But I guess it’s up to the reader to form their own theories and conclusions, as nothing gets resolved per se by the end of the book.
The writing makes use of narrative fog and other techniques to expertly create an ambience that is unlike anything I have discovered in other books.
As far as translated works go, I can say that this does retain the essence of the original language. And I liked that it is interspersed with linguistic nuance.
I think one of my top favourite aspects of Lemon has to be that it is not plot=driven – there is no beginning, middle, or end. The storytelling has a languorous feel to it that compelled me to finish reading the book.
In fact, you can even say that all the chapters ebb and flow, carrying the tides of time with them.
Barely 200 pages long, Kwon’s story is as much a reflection of the standards and norms that are common to Korean society as it is an exploration of the human psyche.
Those who enjoy trying out different kinds of books and aren’t too obstinate about what a book should be like – I’d recommend Lemon to you!