A Perfect Crime by A Yi, translated by Anna Holmwood [in Library Journal]
While most teenagers his age are assiduously studying for college entrance exams, the narrator instead plots the eponymous perfect crime. Sent away by his widowed mother, for whom he has little respect, he lives with his Auntie, a woman he “hates.” She could have been his easiest victim, but instead he chooses a schoolmate, “a girl … who was pretty much perfect.”
The murder is “vicious in the extreme,” involving 37 stabbings and a washing machine. He anxiously flees, is willingly caught, unflinchingly tried, detachedly condemned, and reluctantly agrees to an appeal. Throughout, remorse is never, ever evident. The crime happens early – be warned: in absolutely gory detail – and yet not until the final page does he reveal his simple, exact motive.
Verdict: A Yi’s isolated narrator is equal parts calculating monster and forsaken victim: deserted, neglected, and ignored, he finds that his only means of feeling alive is to engender death. This austere English PEN Award winner offers an exponentially more chilling alternative to the plethora of dystopic titles; fans of Mo Yan, Yu Hua, Fuminori Nakamura, and even Keigo Higashino will surely find resonating, realistic terror here.
Published: 2015 (United States)