I Am the Subway by Kim Hyo-Eun and translated by Deborah Smith takes readers on a subway ride through Seoul where we meet strangers from around the city at every new stop.

The Seoul subway network is the longest in the world, carrying an average of 7.2 million people per day on city lines, and I Am the Subway chronicles moments from the lives of a few people who use it. We meet Mr. Wanju who is running to catch his train at Hapjeon station, and we learn that his main motivation in life is to make his daughter smile. We meet Lee Do-young who gets on at Sillim station and is doing some serious soul-searching as he looks for a new job and struggles with figuring out who he is. Strangers everywhere have their own unique stories and this book celebrates all those fleeting moments with those strangers you’ll likely never meet again.

The title page sits a solid four spreads (not including the endpapers, where the text technically starts) into the story, creating such a clever sense of pacing for readers who are riding along with the story and then are forced to come to a suddenly "stop" at the title page, much like riding on an actual subway that is making a stop. The watercolor illustrations are gentle and truly vary in tone and color depending on the of the text, with large swathes of color on spreads where readers see into the stranger’s life and large amounts of white space on the pages where we ride along to the next stop.

I Am the Subway published this past summer from Scribble US.

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November 11, 2021 at 11:31AM noreply@blogger.com (Mel Schuit)