Walking Practice: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Walking Practice: A Novel By Dolki Min, Victoria Caudle (Translated by) Cover Image
By Dolki Min, Victoria Caudle (Translated by)
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Staff Reviews

A dispatch from a crash-landed alien, possibly the last of their kind, who contorts their extraterrestrial form into a human body to infiltrate society and hunt for flesh. And also to daydream about being loved by us, eventually revealing their true self in all their glory and grotesquery, and subjecting themself to the horror of intimacy. Way more frightening than all the murder, honestly. I’d rather get eaten. Their hunting strategy is ingenious: using dating apps, they morph themself into their prey's ideal body, seek them out for a hookup and then bite their head off. After getting their partner off, of course. Look: they're no monster, they've just got to eat. But the absurdity of human gender and the frailty of their forced body wears them down into a perpetually exhausted and hypervigilant mess. Until they met you, they’d all but given up on being known.
— From Frank's picks

I never thought I would form such an emotional attachment to a gender fluid, extraterrestrial, tentacled alien who only wants to eat humans and get laid. This is such a unique and fresh read for someone like me who loves things like epic space operas and galaxy spanning battles. This book written from the perspective of an alien creature makes me laugh one page and have deep thoughts of morality and what it means to be human the next. But at the end of the day I really have to say the main message I got from this book was simple. STAIRS ARE THE DEVIL! — From Sergio's Picks


Squid Game meets The Left Hand of Darkness meets Under the Skin in this radical literary sensation from South Korea about an alien's hunt for food that transforms into an existential crisis about what it means to be human.

After crashing their spacecraft in the middle of nowhere, a shapeshifting alien find themself stranded on an unfamiliar planet and disabled by Earth’s gravity. To survive, they will need to practice walking. And what better way than to hunt for food? As they discover, humans are delicious.

Intelligent, clever, and adaptable, the alien shift their gender, appearance, and conduct to suit a prey’s sexual preference, then attack at the pivotal moment of their encounter. They use a variety of hunting tools, including a popular dating app, to target the juiciest prey and carry a backpack filled with torturous instruments and cleaning equipment. But the alien’s existence begins to unravel one night when they fail to kill their latest meal.

Thrust into an ill-fated chase across the city, the alien is confronted with the psychological and physical tolls their experience on Earth has taken. Questioning what they must do to sustain their own survival, they begin to understand why humans also fight to live. But their hunger is insatiable, and the alien once again targets a new prey, not knowing what awaits. . . .

Dolki Min’s haunting debut novel is part psychological thriller, part searing critique of the social structures that marginalize those who are different—the disabled, queer, and nonconformist. Walking Practice uncovers humanity in who we consider to be alien, and illuminates how alienation can shape the human experience.

Walking Practice features 21 black-and-white line drawings throughout.

Translated from the Korean by Victoria Caudle

About the Author

Dolki Min is an artist and writer based in South Korea. Walking Practice is their first novel.

Victoria Caudle is a PhD student in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. He completed an MA in literary translation at the University of East Anglia and has an MA in modern Korean literature from Seoul National University.

Praise For…

“Elegantly written and deceptively humorous, Dolki Min’s bombastic debut novel, Walking Practice, is a haunting examination of survival, gender, and the complexity of the human experience. A tremendous literary achievement.”
Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes

Walking Practice is an unforgettable survival story of an alien trying to survive as a human on a hostile planet. This unique and imaginative, weird and delicate sci-fi is a considerate exploration of our social structures: the gender conventions, queerness, and discrimination against the weak. A radical, darkly funny, spine-tingling story, perfect for fans of Matt Haig’s The Humans and Michel Faber’s Under the Skin.”
J.M. Lee, bestselling author of Broken Summer

"Surreal, compelling, and utterly unique." — Buzzfeed

"Walking Practice explores the burden of gender expectations, the struggle of having a flesh prison body, having to feed yourself and wanting to be loved, and even the awkwardness of dealing with other people on the subway. But what really makes this story sing is the uniqueness of the narrator’s voice—both compelling and witty....It is moving and funny, critical and crass. This one is for anyone who is made to feel like an alien in their own body." — Tor.com

“Through this weird, funny, deeply earnest book about a killer alien who doesn’t fit in on Earth, Min has crafted a queer novel about feeling out of place in one’s body and its surroundings... The evident pleasure with which Min has drawn this character makes for a vibrant and memorable fictional encounter with an otherness that’s not, in the end, so different."
The New York Times Book Review

"An alien arrives on Earth, hungry for love. The narrator of Min’s dark satire is a shape-shifting alien who crash-landed here 15 years ago. In that time, it’s sampled all sorts of sustenance on our planet, but only human flesh truly satisfies. So it uses dating apps (username: Hunting4luv) to quell its cravings for sex and sustenance....Entertaining and surprising....A slim, sui generis allegory on romance and its discontents." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Who would come up with a story about a shapeshifting alien who crashlands on Earth, learns to walk by hunting humans and then is forced to confront their sins of survival while critiquing humankind’s marginalization of Others? Dolki Min, that’s who. And who would read such a story? You, if you know what’s good for you." — Ms. magazine

“There’s bleak comedy aplenty in Dolki Min’s Walking Practice—which makes sense, given that protagonist Mumu is a shapeshifting alien who chats with unwitting guys on the internet and then devours them. But this isn’t simply an exercise in the overlap of horror and humor; instead, Mumu’s observations on human gender roles and the fraught nature of nearly every interaction in the narrative give this book a substantial narrative weight, even as the text and translation also factor in some playfulness.”
Words Without Borders

"On the surface, this smart debut novel (translated from the Korean by Victoria Caudle) is a fun story about an alien who finds men on dating apps and eats them to stay alive. But underneath lies a potent critique of gender norms and an exploration of what it feels like to not fit in your body or your surroundings."
New York Times' Books We Recommend

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063258617
ISBN-10: 0063258617
Publisher: HarperVia
Publication Date: March 14th, 2023
Pages: 176
Language: English