From the Shirley Jackson Award–winning author of The Hole, a slow-burning noir thriller with a touch of horror and the uncanny
A disappearance. A missing brother. A lawyer asking questions. And a vast forest in the mountains—the western woods—where the trees huddle close together emanating a crushing darkness and a chill dampness fills the air. The ranger, In-su Park, who lives nearby with his family, is a recovering alcoholic. He claims no knowledge of the man who disappeared, even though the missing man had worked as the ranger just before him. In the little village down the mountain, the shopkeepers will do the same and deny they ever saw or knew the man, though they’re less convincing; and his former supervisor at the Forestry Research Center, Professor Jin, dismisses his importance. But when an accident and a death derail the investigation and someone attempts to break into his office, In-su Park finds himself conducting his own inquiry into the goings-on deep in the heart of the western woods—spurred by the mysterious words he discovers on a piece of paper beneath his desk: “In the forest the owl cries.”
The Owl Cries is a treat for fans of Stephen King, David Lynch, and the nightmare dystopias of Franz Kafka.
About the Author
Hye-young Pyun was born in 1972. She made her literary debut in Korean in 2000 when she won Seoul Shinmun's annual New Writer's Contest with her short story "Shaking Off Dew." She has gone on to publish four short story collections and five novels. She has received several of Korea's most prestigious literary awards, including the Dong-in Literary Award in 2011, the Yi-sang Literary Award in 2014, and the Hyundae Munhak Award in 2015. She has published short stories in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and Words Without Borders. City of Ash and Red was named Book of the Year when it was published in Poland, and it has been licensed to France, Turkey, China, and Vietnam as well. Her novel The Hole is a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award. She lives in Seoul, Korea.
Sora Kim-Russell is a literary translator based in Seoul. Her translations include Hwang Sok-yong’s Princess Bari, Suah Bae’s Nowhere to be Found, and Kyung-sook Shin’s I’ll Be Right There. She teaches at Ewha Womans University and the Literary Translation Institute of Korea. Her full list of publications can be found at sorakimrussell.com.
"Intense . . . fast-paced and all-consuming . . . A novel of secrets, isolation, and pain, The Owl Cries is another tightly executed feat of writing."—Book Riot
"Hye-Young Pyun’s stunning psychological thrillers delve deep into the horrors of being human and the oppressive mechanics of modern society, andThe Owl Cries demonstrates a writer at the top of her game."—CrimeReads
Praise from Korea for The Owl Cries “Pyunʼs forest is like a dark labyrinth. Even just a few inches off the beaten track, and you step into an unstable, wobbly world of horror. Pyun explains that ʻthe forest is a place full of dread, but also someplace one must venture into in order to find oneself.ʼ”—Daily Economy (Maeil Kyungjae)
“But the forest remains a mystery . . . The forest is a microcosm of the world; and the characters in The Owl Cries, ignorant, resigned, and at times quick to resort to violence, are indeed portraits of our own generations.”—Kyunghyang Shinmun
“The book comes across as a detective or mystery novel [but with] an open ending, the case not closed. . . . Perhaps what we can take from the novel is that our problems and answers to them always stem from ourselves, and our lack of self-assertion tends to drive us into a state of despair.”—Readersʼ News
“As the story unravels . . . the mystery only grows. The role of the forest as the backdrop to many secrets, the owl supposedly lurking in its foliage, and the chilling psychology of the people involved in those secrets are illustrated with a hint of the grotesque. . . . The forest seems to be synonymous with our contemporary society, just as seething with suspicion and anxiety. Yes, are we not living in such a forest?”—Munhwa Ilbo
“I should perhaps put it this way: our society—not unlike the village in The Owl Cries—exploits and deceives its members, with everyone complicit in petty schemes, everyone drunk and unable to tell reality from hallucination. . . . In The Owl Cries, the literary prowess that has won Pyun so many awards is unmistakable.”—Seoul Shinmun
“The Owl Cries . . . explores a number of themes Iʼve always felt especially intrigued by.It was born out of my favorite motifs, such as the inherently futile journey to fully comprehend the self, a character who does his best but always ends up with a failure, and an inscrutable world wide open to interpretation. . . . Itʼs a book of mine thatʼs always on my mind.”—Hye-young Pyun on The Owl Cries, Yes TV (Korea) interview
Praise for Hye-young Pyun's Previous Novels The Hole Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award "A Korean take on Misery." —Time, "Top 10 Thrillers to Read This Summer" "[A] taut psychological thriller. . . . The Hole is an unshakable novel about the unfathomable depths of human need." —Shelf Awareness
City of Ash and Red An NPR Great Read, a Barnes & Noble Best Horror Book of 2018, a CrimeReads Ten Best International Crime Fiction Selection “City of Ash and Red will pull you into its nightmare."―NPR "Kafkaesque . . . Those with a taste for creepy suspense will be rewarded."―Publishers Weekly "Another gruesome masterpiece."―Crime Reads
The Law of Lines A CrimeReadsBest International Crime Novel of 2020 "[A] simmering thriller."—The New York Times Book Review "[A] compelling existential thriller."—Wall Street Journal "Pure, hard-scrabble noir . . . Harrowing and elegiac."—LitHub