From Kirkus Reviews: Tteokbokki is a popular Korean dish of bland rice cakes immersed in a spicy pepper sauce. The duality is a good metaphor for this book, a bestseller in South Korea. Baek has dysthymia, a low-level but persistent depression. The narrative is primarily a collection of the author’s discussions with her therapist, punctuated with short essays leavened by the poignancy of self-reflection and occasional flashes of humor. Though issues involving mental health continue to be stigmatized, Baek is clear in her belief that her story could help those in similar circumstances. “I wonder about those like me, who seem totally fine on the outside but are rotting on the inside,” she writes, “where the rot is this vague state of being not-fine and not-devastated at the same time.” While the author realizes that many of her problems stem from a painful family background, she also examines the pressure on Korean women to conform to an idealized image. She worries constantly about her appearance and what other people think about her, a mindset that plagues many Korean women. Some of the author’s discussions relate directly to Korean culture, but much of it transcends borders and will resonate with readers around the world. As she gradually worked through the therapy process, Baek learned how to avoid the emotional roller coaster that comes with dysthymia and how to avoid constantly judging herself and others. Though the act of living always comes with ups and downs, it’s important to keep them in context and seek an appropriate balance. Baek acknowledges that she might never be entirely free of her dysthymia, but she can manage it, live with it, and understand it as part of her being.
This is a smash hit in Korea. Words like "compelling", "honest", "heartfelt" kept popping up as I read more and more about this book.
Baek Sehee herself has said: "I wanted those that are feeling and living as I do to read the book and find relief that they are not alone."
Originally published in 2 parts in Korea, it is now translated to English and published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2022. It is a slim 208 pages and available at your local bookstore.( Right now though, the hardcover edition is on sale at Amazon for 45% off!) I want to thank Bloomsbury Publishing for an eBook copy of I Want to Die but I want to Eat Tteokbokki to review! Look for my review coming soon...