Saha: A Novel
TIME • Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2022
From the international best-selling author of Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 comes this chilling dystopian fable for fans of Netflix’s Squid Game.
In a country called Town, a doctor named Su is found dead in an abandoned car. There is only one place the police intend to look for her suspected killer: the Saha Estates.
Controlled by a secretive organization of ministers, Town is the safest, richest nation in the world. But it is a society clearly divided into the haves and have-nots, and those who have the very least—who aren’t even considered citizens—live on the Saha Estates. Residents of Saha must squat in moldy units without plumbing or electricity and can only find work doing harsh labor. For many, the apartment complex is a bleak haven for escaping even bleaker pasts—as it was for Jin-kyung and her brother, Do-Kyung, who showed up one day sopping wet and shivering.
No one is shocked when a lowlife like Do-Kyung becomes the main suspect in Su’s—a citizen’s—murder. But then Do-Kyung disappears. Isolated in a barren Saha unit, Jin-Kyung makes a choice: she will finally confront a system hellbent on erasing her brother’s existence. To find him, she must rely on her tightlipped neighbors, from the mysterious janitor known as “Old Man,” to Granny Konnim, the community gardener and reluctant midwife, to Woomi, an unwitting test subject at the local clinic. On her quest for the truth, Jin-kyung will uncover a reality far darker than she could have imagined.
Written in Cho Nam-Joo’s signature sharp prose, brilliantly translated by Jamie Chang, Saha is a chilling portrait of what happens when we finally unmask our oppressors.
Praise for Saha: A Novel
A dystopian thriller with a series of intimate character sketches that form a portrait of a community. (Imagine “Winesburg, Ohio” set in “1984.”)... Cho draws touching portraits of her discarded denizens… illuminat[ing] the systemic enforcement of class in the same way that “Kim Jiyoung” revealed gender inequality…. An affecting portrait of people doing their best to survive in a world that would rather pretend they didn’t exist.
— Lincoln Michel - New York Times Book Review
What is it called again when dystopian fiction seems too uncomfortably plausible: Horror? Speculative fiction? A wake-up call? Treading in territories visited over time by Dickens, Orwell, Atwood, Ishiguro, Squid Game, and Parasite, Cho recounts—in specific and painstaking detail—the miserable lives endured by the many residents of the Saha housing complex... This successor to Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 (2020), Cho’s chronicle of the misogynistic forces behind South Korea’s #MeToo movement—a finalist for the National Book Award—addresses another equally corrosive social horror. Read. Weep. Learn.
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review