Y/N. A Novel
“Crisp zeitgeist setups within a transnational now—Esther Yi’s sharp, sculpted paragraphs beat with a hilarious demonheart that’ll make you cry. I loved it.” —Eugene Lim, author of Search History
“Esther Yi’s debut novel reads with decisive, alarming confidence, in a prose style that’s both intellectually rigorous and playfully perverse. Yi has a preternatural sense for the ways we speak past each other, locked as we are in the whirlpools of our own devotion—Y/N reveals the unexpected places desire can lead us, if only we are willing to lose ourselves.” —Larissa Pham, author of Pop Song
“Sumptuous, precise, and full of pulsing, startling life, Yi captures with finesse the rhythms of internet voyeurism, the corporeality of parasocial desire, and the very heartbeat of contemporary longing.” —Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun
“Esther Yi’s every paragraph is revelatory, unexpected, with an intense capacity to see the world anew, such that we are empowered again in the matter of astonishment. I admire her work so much.” — Rick Moody, author of Hotels of North America
“Esther Yi’s debut novel reads with decisive, alarming confidence, in a prose style that’s both intellectually rigorous and playfully perverse. Yi has a preternatural sense for the ways we speak past each other, locked as we are in the whirlpools of our own devotion—Y/N reveals the unexpected places desire can lead us, if only we are willing to lose ourselves.” — Larissa Pham, author of Pop Song
It’s an astonishing debut. Unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I certainly loved the voice right from the off, and laughed out loud with delight at several sentences. I adore both the bonkerness of it and the novel’s deep seriousness, more Kafka than magic realism, but with more humour, perhaps more like Lewis Carroll in that the author conjures up an entirely plausible parallel reality. — Christopher Potter, Editorial Director Europa Editions UK
For readers of My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler, No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood, Either/Or by Elif Batuman, and The Emissary by Yoko Tawada
An unmissable debut novel about a Korean American woman living in Berlin whose obsession with a member of a wildly popular K-pop band sends her to Seoul on a hilarious, high-concept journey of literary self-destruction.
It’s as if her life only began once Moon appeared in it. The desultory copywriting work, the German boyfriend, and the want of anything not-Moon quickly fall away when she beholds the idol in concert, where Moon dances as if his movements are creating their own gravitational field; on live streams, where fans around the world comment in dozens of languages; even on the packaging of skincare products endorsed by the sensational Korean boyband, of which Moon is the youngest, most luminous member. Bursting with ineffable desire, but with nowhere to put these outsized feelings, our unnamed narrator begins writing Y/N fanfic, an interactive genre in which the reader, [Your Name], is the protagonist of the story. Increasingly, her fiction serves as a philosophical arena where she can play out an intimate relationship with the unattainable star.
Then her boyfriend dumps her and Moon vanishes from the public eye. As Y/N flies from Berlin to Seoul to be with Moon, our narrator, too, journeys to the city where her parents were born in search of the object of her love. There, an escalating series of mistranslations and misidentifications land her at the headquarters of the Kafkaesque entertainment company that manages the boyband; at a secret location, together with Moon at last, art and real life approach their final convergence. But nothing unfolds as she’d hypothesized, and she must confront the disquieting consequences of having authored a story without a fixed protagonist. Can love exist where there is no self, no cultural memory, no personal history to tether it? Can Moon ever love her back?
Crackling with the mordant angst of Ottessa Moshfegh and the sinewy ingenuity of Thomas Pynchon, Y/N is an astonishing debut, a bravura performance of the modern absurd, and a poignant picture of the loneliness that afflicts contemporary life.