Reviews for The cabinet

Publishers Weekly
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Though Kim’s second novel, The Plotters, was his first work translated into English, this brilliant mosaic novel was his debut in South Korea and is now available in English in a faithful and charismatic translation. Mr. Kong is an everyman office worker who organizes and oversees Cabinet 13, a filing cabinet full of stories. Winding through his recognizable reality are the bizarre accounts of strange occurrences contained within the cabinet, among them, “Why, Ludger Sylbaris, Why?” the story of the lone survivor of a volcanic eruption who is saved by his town’s bizarre superstitions. “The Magician” tells of a man so desperate to escape his troubles that he seeks out supernatural help to become a cat. And the philosophical “Bluffer” reads almost like an essay on the nature of phobia. These stories straddle the lines between science fiction, fantasy, fairy tale, and acute reality, and all are told in an approachable style. Readers will be drawn in by the subtle yet effective oddities that grow increasingly more bizarre as the work wends on. This deserves a wide audience Agent: Barbara Zitwer, Barbara J. Zitwer Agency. (Oct.)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kong Deok-geun is an “average administrative worker,” a position for which he surpassed 137 applicants for “a job that has no work.” His boredom, so severe that he’s named it “I-would-rather-eat-dog-treats-than-suffer-this-boredom,” sends him to the fourth floor, where he discovers Cabinet 13, then spends an entire week methodically cycling through 10,000 combinations to open the four-digit lock. The 375 files within are the lifework of acerbic, dying Professor Kwon, who eventually, inexplicably names Kong as his successor. Kwon’s collected research is on all manner of “symptomers,” people who “exist between the humans of today and the humans of the future.” Some survive by consuming inedibles—gas, glass, steel, newspapers. Some are “torporers” and lose time. Some deal with doppelgängers or separated-twin souls. Some are “chimera,” with a ginkgo tree embedded in a finger, a lizard for a tongue. The latter group will provoke less-than-friendly outside interest that will threaten Kong’s future forever. Deftly translated by award-winning Halbert, Kim’s latest import (after the irresistible The Plotters, 2019) again showcases his sly, surreal, dark humor about all the ways humans are, well, not particularly human.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kong Deok-geun is an “average administrative worker,” a position for which he surpassed 137 applicants for “a job that has no work.” His boredom, so severe that he’s named it “I-would-rather-eat-dog-treats-than-suffer-this-boredom,” sends him to the fourth floor, where he discovers Cabinet 13, then spends an entire week methodically cycling through 10,000 combinations to open the four-digit lock. The 375 files within are the lifework of acerbic, dying Professor Kwon, who eventually, inexplicably names Kong as his successor. Kwon’s collected research is on all manner of “symptomers,” people who “exist between the humans of today and the humans of the future.” Some survive by consuming inedibles—gas, glass, steel, newspapers. Some are “torporers” and lose time. Some deal with doppelgängers or separated-twin souls. Some are “chimera,” with a ginkgo tree embedded in a finger, a lizard for a tongue. The latter group will provoke less-than-friendly outside interest that will threaten Kong’s future forever. Deftly translated by award-winning Halbert, Kim’s latest import (after the irresistible The Plotters, 2019) again showcases his sly, surreal, dark humor about all the ways humans are, well, not particularly human.

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