The Korea Herald

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[New in Korean] Novel on measurement offers insights into life

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : April 28, 2023 - 09:06

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“You Can't Measure a Meter” by Yang Jee-ye (Munhakdongne Publishing) “You Can't Measure a Meter” by Yang Jee-ye (Munhakdongne Publishing)

“You Can't Measure a Meter”

By Yang Jee-ye

Munhakdongne Publishing

The Munhakdongne New Writer Award, a prestigious platform for outstanding new writers’ first full-length novels, released its 28th winning novel in late March. Past winners have included the International Booker shortlisted “Whale” by Cheon Myeong-kwan.

The judges described the winning title “You Can't Measure a Meter” by Yang Jee-ye as “overwhelmingly interesting and innovative from the very first page” and “a novel full of attractive, witty scenes with dynamic characters.”

The story revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a woman known as the “genius of measurement.” She was a national hero who invented a “12-decimal weight scale” capable of measuring weight to 12 decimal places -- so intricate that the number changes when one holds one's breath.

Ten years before, the woman had been on a plane which departed from Yangon and crashed into a river. All the passengers survived and, having also boarded a rescue boat herself, wearing a life jacket, the woman then disappeared without a trace.

As time passes, a museum is built to honor her achievements and the narrator, “I,” who was once a mountain climber but gave up climbing after losing a leg in an accident, is offered a position there. Reading the diary left behind by the genius, “I” begins to unravel the mystery surrounding her disappearance.

“You Can't Measure a Meter” promises to be a compelling read, filled with intriguing characters and an intricate plot that will keep readers engaged.