Loving Deeply, Sight Unseen: Alice’s Way of Life by Jang Eunjin

  • onOctober 20, 2014
  • Vol.7 Spring 2010
  • byJung Yeo-ul
Alice's Way of Life

A new cyber generation that finds no discomfort in spending day after day with a computer as a friend—this is what the older generation has been raising concerns about. By shopping, chatting, taking classes, and playing games online, this new generation can go an entire day without “real conversation.” This trend in Korea has given rise to the term “digital mutes” which refers to the increasing numbers of people who are finding friends and even lovers through online games and chatting without once seeing each others’ faces.

You’ve never really met someone until you’ve seen their face, says the older generation, so how could you be friends or lovers with someone you have not met in person? Jang Eunjin, debut author of Alice’s Way of Life, offers a provocative answer to the older generation’s question.

She says that because we look at faces, we are deceived by them. But by not looking at faces, we can love people fully.

Jang’s novel, Alice’s Way of Life, tells the fascinating story of a woman who has not gone outside for 10 years. The only clue to her existence is her voice on the intercom.

Alice, the woman in apartment 305, uses the intercom to send her neighbor Luis (Minseok) on endless errands. The errands come at odd times and for odd reasons.

When he refuses, the eccentric Alice even takes a lead pipe to Luis’ door. What begins as irritation and curiosity about the unusual Alice, who only exists as a voice to Luis, surprisingly turns to friendship and even love. No sight, no touch, only the imagination. Is it possible to love that way?

The author whispers, yes. As the secrets of the strange Alice are revealed, Alice’s Way of Life sheds an entertaining light on the lives and loves of the new cyber generation.

We are a generation that has become closer to our fellow bloggers or Facebook friends than to our actual neighbors. But can we truly say we have grown close because we “meet?” If we do not know each other’s face, does that we mean we do not know each other? Through her provocative and experimental narrative, debut author Jang Eunjin questions the true meaning of intimacy in the 21st century.