A Master of Murder: How a Murderer Remembers by Kim Young-ha

  • onOctober 27, 2014
  • Vol.22 Winter 2013
  • byCha Mi-ryeong
How a Murderer Remembers

A serial killer retired after his last murder 25 years ago. He buried dead bodies in the forest of bamboo he bought, and adopted Eunhee as his daughter, who is actually the daughter of his last victim. Now he is about to kill again. A series of murders occur in a regional district and near the region, a suspicious man driving a jeep approaches Eunhee. Can this former serial killer save his daughter from a new serial killer?

Kim Young-ha’s latest novel, How a Murderer Remembers, reminds us of his first bestseller, I Have the Right to Destroy Myself. In I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, Kim has listed the “suicide instructor” who plans and assists with the suicide of clients as a new face in the history of Korean fiction. How a Murderer Remembers, which is based on the record of a person who presides over death, also shows the protagonist who proudly recalls his past, at least, until after the first several pages. It makes sense because his poem “A Knife and Bones,” is not a metaphor, but literally as it is.

However, the writer asks again: who presides over death? After it is revealed that the protagonist has Alzheimer’s disease, readers meet more often a typical 70-year-old man who desperately fights against his collapsing memories. This novel, consisting of a series of chapters abruptly cut off like the protagonist’s own memories, sends the readers into chaos by turning everything back to the beginning in the end. The last part of the story creates a gripping scene when the perilous castle of memories he has built is swallowed up into oblivion and illusions.

Not only is this kind of miserable serial killer story unusual, but this level of introspection in a serial killer is also rare. What makes him endlessly small? Kim, who has been skeptical about all of humankind and history, now tries to put himself on the stage of doubt. 




Author's Profile

The English editions of Kim Young-ha’s I Have the Right to Destroy MyselfYour Republic Is Calling You, and Black Flower were published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who will also publish his latest book in 2017. Kim was a resident writer at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program in 2003, and a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times from 2013 to 2014. His books have appeared in more than twelve languages.