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Book Club Zoom Discussing "Love in the Big City" by Sang Jong Park

Join us for a lively discussion of Love in the Big City - the English debut of author Sang Jong Park - one of Korea's most exciting, young writers. The story of a young gay man searching for happiness in the lonely city of Seoul.

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Thursday, February 16, 2023

8:00-9:30 pm ET (Eastern Time); 5 pm Pacific Time

Please RSVP for the Zoom link.  (Same as last month, if you attended before) 

Thursday, February 16, 2023: Reading "Love in the Big City" by Sang Jong Park (Author) and translated into English by Anton Hur (2021-201 pages). 

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1. Love in the Big City by Sang Jong Park (Author); translated into English by Anton Hur (2021-201 pages). 
ISBN: 978-0-8021-5878-9

Longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award
Longlisted for the International Booker Prize
New York Times Book Review Paperback Row Selection
Named a Best LGBTQ+ Book of the Year by 

A funny, transporting, surprising, and poignant novel that was one of the highest-selling debuts of recent years in Korea, 
Love in the Big City tells the story of a young gay man searching for happiness in the lonely city of Seoul

Love in the Big City is the English-language debut of Sang Young Park, one of Korea’s most exciting young writers. A runaway bestseller, the novel hit the top five lists of all the major bookstores, went into twenty-six printings, and was praised for its unique literary voice and perspective. It is now poised to capture a worldwide readership.

Young is a cynical yet fun-loving Korean student who pinballs from home to class to the beds of recent Tinder matches. He and Jaehee, his female best friend and roommate, frequent nearby bars where they push away their anxieties about their love lives, families, and money with rounds of soju and ice-cold Marlboro Reds that they keep in their freezer. Yet over time, even Jaehee leaves Young to settle down, leaving him alone to care for his ailing mother and to find companionship in his relationships with a series of men, including one whose handsomeness is matched by his coldness, and another who might end up being the great love of his life.

A brilliantly written novel that takes us into the glittering nighttime of Seoul and the bleary-eyed morning after with both humor and emotion, Love in the Big City is a wry portrait of millennial loneliness as well as the abundant joys of queer life. 


Wikipedia Entry:

 2. About Sang Jong Park (Author) and Anton Hur (Translator):

SANG YOUNG PARK was born in 1988 and studied French literature at Sungkyunkwan University. He worked as a magazine editor, copywriter, and consultant before debuting as a novelist. The title story of his bestselling short story collection, The Tears of an Unknown Artist, or Zaytun Pasta, was one of Words Without Borders's most read pieces ever. He lives in Seoul.

Link to the short-story "The Tears of an Unknown Artist" 


ANTON HUR was born in Stockholm, Sweden. He is the winner of a PEN Translates grant and a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant, among many others, and his translations include Kyung-Sook Shin's The Court Dancer and Kang Kyeong-ae's The Underground Village

The book's English translator Anton Hur lives in South Korea. Hur stated that he found out about the author from reading Korean-language literary magazines, and he had little difficulty translating the dialog. He described the writing style as easy to translate, with what he jokingly called "an Anglo-Saxon vibe.


3. Where to find the book: 

Google Books

Other sources: your library (including inter-library loan), retailers, Amazon Kindle edition is $9.10 [direct link] or use the free Kindle app on any device; book is available from all booksellers in every format).  

It also may be available to borrow (for free) on WorldCat (Enter your location)

Alas it isn't available at OpenLibrary  or The Internet Archive

4. *OPTIONAL RESOURCES* for the book and authors here:  

Publisher's Grove Atlantic page:

Reading Guide

YouTube Interview With Author about the book, at Korea Society (48 minutes):


5. Reviews

NY Times Book Review (Link can be read without a subscription):

Library Journal

DEBUT A best seller in South Korea in 2019, Park's first novel (following a short story collection) features an aspiring writer in his 20s with the author's name and follows his quest for love as a gay man. The novel's early pages detail Young's friendship with his best friend and roommate Jaehee, a barista by day and tutor by night. The two share a passion for life and exchange unabashed tales of their numerous sexual conquests, but events take a turn when Jaehee settles down to marry her fiancé and Young must seek out a life of his own. What results is a lightly comical and insightful tale of a man, now in his 30s, who cares for his highly religious, strong-willed, but frail mother as she battles cancer; Young meanwhile seeks to better understand himself and to trust others enough to find happiness in life. VERDICT Centering on relationships (or the lack thereof), this work offers readers honest characterizations of flawed individuals from different walks of life who are all looking to find contentment regardless of their circumstances. Park's writing is introspective and relatable, and the broad-ranging themes make this a good candidate for book group discussions.--Shirley Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA
Publishers Weekly

Park's stunning English-language debut takes readers through the wild highs and lows of young adulthood with the story of a gay man, his erstwhile female best friend, and his search for love. Young and Jaehee share a studio apartment in Seoul, where they work odd jobs, spend money they don't have, compare notes on the men they're dating ("His hair is so long he has it in two braids. He looks just like a doll. It's hilarious when we have sex," Jaehee says about one of them). They support each other after heartbreaks and nightmarish encounters, such as an intruder Jaehee lays out with a high kick. After Jaehee moves in with her safe but boring fiancé, marking the end of the pair's "vagabond" years, Young moves back in with his parents and takes care of his sick mother, and the two friends grow apart. Young begins to write short stories as a way to replace his nights of rambling with Jaehee, and, after winning a prize, he embarks on a career as a writer. As his star rises, he meets two men--one is handsome but cold, the other could be his true love--and has to choose. The strength of the narrator, notably his flexibility of voice and expansiveness, carries the narrative to great heights, making this a standout among queer literature. Brilliant, glowing, and fun, Hur's translation succeeds in bringing Park's effervescent voice to English-reading audiences. (Nov 2021)


In the "big city" of Seoul, love isn't easy to find--even tougher to secure is love that lasts. Young and Jaehee are best friends from university, bonded in their "boundless energy of [being] poor, promiscuous twenty-year-olds." Young is a gay man, Jaehee a straight woman; as adults, they share a studio apartment, their lives driven by meeting men, drinking to oblivion, to be repeated at every opportunity. And then Jaehee marries and moves out. Young's relationships have evolved (a bit), but permanence eludes. Meanwhile, even as his mother succumbs to cancer, she's still asking him about (traditional) marriage. In the midst of his loneliness--perhaps because he's so much alone--Young becomes an award-winning new writer. Despite the usual protestations that "all characters and incidents are fiction," Park's ending acknowledgments seem to reveal notable autobiographical overlaps as a young, gay Korean writer. Self-described queer Korean translator Hur empathically delivers Park's affecting English-language debut to Western audiences. A best-seller in Korea for being a significant (and rare!) gay novel, Park's lost-love(s) narrative is also a universal literary beacon for readers of all backgrounds.


–> ** INVITE ** ANY YALE ALUMNI to our discussion on February 16: 


NOTE: Our informal group doesn’t have any set “curriculum;” we discuss the books that members nominate and that we all vote for… but ongoing themes, connected to LGBTQ+ experience – sometimes including Yale – do emerge. At discussions, each of us can bring up ANY points we want. We welcome the widest range of opinions, in a lively collegial atmosphere – Boola Boola Redux! 


Yale GALA LGBTQ+ Book Club is a series of lively Zoom discussions of LGBTQ+ contemporary and classic novels, non-fiction, plays, and poetry. All alumni are welcome, of all orientations, genders, races, and points of view. We meet the third Thursday of every month at 8 pm ET via Zoom. 


To register, please email with the subject line, “Yale GALA LGBTQ+ Book Club: Love in the Big City by Sang Jonh Park and Anton Hur -- or simply Book Club

More Info:

Thursday, Feb 16, 2023 at 8 pm ET.
Love in the big City by Sang Jong Park and Anton Hur (2021-201 pages)

Thursday, March 16, 2023 at 8 pm.
There will be No Miracles Here, by Casey Gerald (Yale MC '09)

Thursday, April 20, 2023 at 8 pm
Genderqueer by Maia Kobabe - (either the paperback or the slightly longer hardcover book)




We are NOT limited to the below recommendations but see what you think of these diverse titles. Nominate any LGBTQ+ book that interests you, contemporary or classic, whether a work of FICTION (novel, story collection), NON-FICTION (history, biography, memoir, essay collection), PLAY (or musical), or POETRY; there doesn’t need to be a Yale connection. Mention your choice, at a discussion, and I’ll add it to the following list for future group emails. We periodically, live at the beginning of discussions, take nominations and then vote as a group.

For our UPCOMING OPEN DATES (‘Third Thursdays’) – in the next couple of months, we need to select books for: March , April and May.  
If you’re looking for some ideas, here are major LGBTQ+ book ‘best lists’ and award winners (Lambda Literary, Publishing Triangle, Stonewall Awards, more). NEW!  BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) LGBTQ+ literature with links to external BIPOC sites. You’re not limited to those websites. PLEASE NOTE: new titles take a few months to become widely available in libraries. Here are members’ recommendations.


  • AMAN recommends: (FICTION) Delicious Foods by James Hannaham;  Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu;  The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.;  The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer.  (NON-FICTION) Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition by P Carl;  Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay; Love, Hait and Click Bait by Liz Bower and Ghost Wall: A Novel by Sarah Moss.
  • ANN recommends: The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village memoir by Samuel R. Delany
  • BRUCE recommends: Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin;  The Gallery by John Horne Burns (1947); Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns by David Margolick
  • CHIP recommends: Poetry of Emily Dickinson (list of Dickinson’s most openly lesbian poems); There Will be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald; and Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns by David Margolick
  • JIM recommends: The Bell by Iris Murdoch;  The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde;  Julian [last ‘pagan’ Roman emperor] by Gore Vidal;  Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts by James M. Saslow (includes hundreds of art photos; winner of two Lambda Literary Awards) – THANKS to Prof. Saslow, Pictures and Passions is briefly FREE to download complete (use the basic “Download PDF” link; 59 MB) and Gilgamesh (which translation). 
  • MARY ANNE recommends: The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen; and Love Me Tender by Constance Debre (English translation and/or French original). 
  • TASH recommends: Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry. There is also a PBS documentary :) 
  • CAROLYN recommends: Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl b Andrea Lawlor and XX by Carolina Robertis
  • What would YOU – including new members – like our group to discuss? Nominate ANY LGBTQ+ book that interests you! I’ll add your recommendations here.





  • January 2023: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
  • December 2022: Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies:A Memoir of Love, Loss and Other Four-Letter Words by Michael Ausiello (2017). Also a Dec 2022 movie Spoiler
  • November 2022: Love, Hate and Click Bait by Liz Bowery (2022)
  • October 2022: Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry (Yale '94).  (2018) - 250 pages. PBG movie is Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes / Feeling Heart
  • September 2022: Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl, by Andrea Lawlor (2017)
  • May and June 2022: Maurice, by EM Forster (1913 - published 1971 with a happy ending)
  • April 2022: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
  • March 2022: Ain't I a Woman, by bell hooks
  • February 2022 – Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Stephen Sondheim’s “Musical Thriller”
  • January 2022 – Song in a Weary Throat, Pauli Murray’s memoir. (Movie available)
  • December 2021 – Orlando, Virginia Woolf’s novel
  • November 2021 – Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart’s novel
  • October 2021 – Fa**ots, Larry Kramer’s satirical first novel
  • September 2021 – The Sparsholt Affair, Alan Hollinghurst’s novel
  • August 2021 – The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith’s thriller novel
  • July 2021 – Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, Paul Monette’s memoir
  • June 2021 – Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo’s novel
  • May 2021 – The Inheritance, Matthew Lopez’s play, inspired by E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End
  • April 2021 – The Heart’s Invisible Furies, John Boyne’s novel
  • March 2021 – Native Country of the Heart, a Memoir, by Cherríe Moraga
  • February 2021 – Leaves of Grass (1855 first version), Walt Whitman’s poetry
  • January 2021 – The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s novel
  • December 2020 – Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman’s novel [no meetings in October or November]
  • September 2020 – The Gods of Tango, Carolina de Robertis’s novel [no meeting in August]
  • July 2020 – Under the Udala Trees, Chinelo Okparanta’s novel
  • June 2020 (our first discussion) – Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Audre Lorde’s autobiographical novel (“biomythography”)


 More info:

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