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FICTION

A Love that Overcomes: Can You Go Insane? by Kim Insuk

  • onOctober 23, 2014
  • Vol.13 Autumn 2011
  • byPark Hyekyung
Can You Go Insane?
2011
302pp.

An earnest and passionate writer, Kim Insuk has been writing fiction continuously since her literary debut at the age of 20. Her novels merge an acute critical awareness of contemporary society with a deeper, existential reflection on human life, and she has consistently attracted both critical and popular attention, sharing with us a profound, sorrowful world that is all her own.

For the past several years, earthquakes and tsunamis have occurred around the world with great frequency, and as an author who responds sensitively to the issues of the day, Kim has taken such a disaster site as the main setting for Can You Go Insane? On an island in the area of the South Pacific, the heroine, who has killed her husband’s lover, is swept away in a tsunami together with everything else on the island. The author takes popular subject matter, the love and separation of a man and woman, and adds to it a deeper layer of critical awareness with the dramatic incident of the tsunami: the characters are healed and reborn through the experience of love.

Wallace’s Line, continental drift theory, and plate tectonics, all mentioned in the novel, act as entertaining metaphorical devices within it. Just as earthquakes and tsunamis are disasters that arise from the clash of plates on the earth’s surface, clashes continuously break out between the story’s heroine, Jin, and her husband, Jin. Even if they share the same name, they are like different plates colliding. Not only that, but discord among strangers creeps into all the relations of the characters featured in the novel. That the natives and foreigners mixed together in the story are like strange, deserted islands to one another is evocative of the novel’s setting and plate tectonics. However, through the ending in which the foreign heroine and the native Iana begin loving each other in the midst of the tsunami’s ruins, the writer offers the possibility that a disaster caused by a collision of plates may be overcome by regeneration and healing. The title of the novel, Can You Go Insane?, refers to the influence that you and I have in forming each other within the great dialectic of love.