Magazine article World Literature Today

A Greater Music

Magazine article World Literature Today

A Greater Music

Article excerpt

Bae Suah. A Greater Music. Trans. Deborah Smith. Rochester, New York. Open Letter. 2016. 128 pages.

A Greater Music is another addition to a growing body of literature that explores the idea that human sexuality is more pliable and fluid than the rigid labels we assign to it. When the unnamed narrator of this story falls into an icy lake while visiting her boyfriend, Joachim, in Berlin, her memories of past and present blur together into a meandering and reflective narrative.

The narrator is a Korean writer who first came to Germany three years prior to her current visit in order to study its language and literature. She had difficulty learning in a traditional classroom environment, so she hired a private tutor, a woman who is only referred to as M. in the text. M.s love of literature and music mirrors her own, and as the two women bond over their common interests, an intensely romantic relationship also develops.

The narrator's relationship with M. is sharply contrasted to her current love interest, the practical-minded metalworker Joachim. When the narrator arrives in Berlin after her three-year absence, she stays at Joachim.s apartment, and they do all the typical things one would expect of a couple: they walk the dog; they eat meals together; they watch television. …

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