Greater-music-baeMark Haber at The Quarterly Conversation:

Somehow, South Korean author Bae Suah weaves the strangest and most human narratives from the events of our lives. In her two recent titles, A Greater Music and Recitation, she finds the mysterious border where life and dreams, travel and place, the past and future merge.

Readers that rely on plot will find themselves on unpredictable ground. Bae Suah is a circular writer, and a circle, as we know, has no end. Recitation, especially, whose protagonist is a wandering actress, whose stories and memories become the stories and dreams of other characters, seems akin to gazing at a beautiful painting without a point of focus. Perhaps this is the point; where does one draw a map of life? Or art? Where do these things start and end? Are they supposed to start and end? García Márquez insisted that intuition was fundamental to writing fiction; Bae Suah seems to support this belief, demonstrating how this conviction shapes their work. As the characters in both these books wander through their lives, their pasts, and their memories, so too does the reader.

The main character of Recitation, Kyung-hee, is stateless, traveling across Europe and Asia, between Vienna and Seoul and several other cities, staying at stranger’s homes or hostels. As she tells her stories to different hosts and old friends, her listeners interject, often with their own stories, and soon the contrast between plot and story is evident; plot is altogether absent, but Recitation is replete with stories, awash with characters eager to disclose their theories on life and travel, destiny and family.

more here.