The synopsis of a Korean American woman who accidentally stumbles on the mystery of her parents murder five years ago really does not accurately describe The Interpreter
. Ironic in a way, because the novel is all about how expectations can be fraught with mistakes and there are things whose meaning are always out of comprehension's grasp.
The good is that Suki Kim has wonderful scenes and turns of phrases. There's a melancholy tone throughout that aches and you really do get into the skin and sadness that inhabits Suzy Park. The scene of the last deposition is really the emotional payoff of the novel, with Suzy as the witness but finally understanding the interplay of what goes on. It is the perfect blend of emotion, symbolism and character development.
The bad is that it drags. The more compelling story of how Suzy deals with her troubled relationships regarding her parents and especially he sister are often overshadowed by retreading of her romances with older, married men. In fact, it takes more than half the novel for Suzy to actually even begin to examine the evidence that her parents' murder was more than it seemed, opting instead to meander through Suzy's romantic complications and hang ups. Meanwhile, the actual plot of the whodunnit is sparse, padded out and largely held up by the uncommunicative nature of the participants.The Interpreter
at its most effective is a study of culture and loneliness seen through the fractured set up of a person who was orphaned literally and figuratively by her family's behavior. The plot is more a frame that allows Kim to segue from one scene to the other, and the best parts come as observations rather than a culmination of the other elements. Best read in moody introspective moments, but people who want tightly paced stories with proactive motion should find something else.