When I started reading and discovered that Samuel Park had passed away prior to this novel’s publication, I began wishing for the book to be bad. Because I understood that if it turned out to be a work of beauty, that I would be along with those who knew and loved Park as a human and a writer, grieving. Well, I am now, because the novel is completely spectacular. And I’m not saying that just because Park is dead now: it’s much easier to critique a dead author than a living one. I am saying this because Park had left behind a sparkling, breathing, complicated novel that’s also very accessible. It is what I would want my own novel to be, both in effect, and the wealth of content, and the sparsity, the flow of language. And the way it became even more important after the win of Bolsonaro in the Brazilian election, of which Park could not have known: I can’t call it anything other than prophesying.
I like to think about death in this way: if someone dies, it’s not a life cut short, but a life with a shorter lifespan then we’re used to see. And the question becomes whether the person passing had accomplished enough, on their own terms, to fill it with meaning. The answer to this, in context of Samuel Park, is an astounding yes, however little it may ease the pain of the grieving.
The Caregiver by Samuel Park
Published by Simon & Schuster in 2018