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Dystopia Is Everywhere


In Hye-young Pyun’s City of Ash and Red, an unnamed employee of a pesticide company attends a party where he crushes an interloping rat with a designer bag. The branch manager is impressed enough to offer the man a promotion via relocation to Country C. The island where he is meant to reside is built on an old landfill. Trash festers everywhere. But ubiquitous waste is the least of the man’s problems. He’s quarantined at an airport. There are rumors of an impending earthquake. His palms and arms are mottled with unexplained bruises. When he finally realizes he forgot to make arrangements for his dog’s care, he calls a colleague to investigate. The colleague reports that the man’s dog has been found dead, along with his ex-wife, both repeatedly stabbed. The protagonist believes himself to be innocent. We suspect otherwise.

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