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‘Nowhere To Be Found’ – Book Review

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‘Nowhere To Be Found’ by Bae Suah is a fleetingly quick book narrated by a nameless protagonist, who meanders through her life, yet barely acquaints herself with the reader. Set in the 1980s, the narrator talks about having to work more than one job, starving half the time, and forming an abstract relationship with a young man who is two years older than her.

The blurb for the book goes – “A nameless narrator passes through her life, searching for meaning and connection in experiences she barely feels. For her, time and identity blur, and all action is reaction.”. But it doesn’t feel like the she is searching for any sort of meaning in anything, instead, she just passively goes through the motions of life, hoping perhaps for a quick burning death. Her father is in jail, mother an unemployed alcoholic, older brother looking for a new job, younger sister a school student. These relationships are barely scratched, although, there isn’t much to explore because the protagonist doesn’t share a deep bond with anybody in her life. There isn’t enough time for that.

While on one hand, it’s easy to read this book, some parts of it are quite poetic, while others feel too random. There is no cohesive flow to the events or narration, and it really becomes difficult to understand what exactly the point of the story is… probably nothing? For some reason, I was expecting a violent mysterious twist in the end, but the climax was just overwhelmingly bland. Maybe some of us are just not philosophical or ruminative enough to understand author Bae Suah’s intention with this work.

“Nowhere To Be Found” did nothing for me and is not something I would recommend anybody. It’s a 2/5 from me.

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