By Wook Kim
Updated July 06, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Detached and methodical (and, perhaps, a touch insane), the nameless narrator of this slim volume spends his hours seeking out the sad and lonely souls who haunt modern Seoul, offering some of them the means to end their worldly existences — he’s like the weary angel from Wings of Desire, only corrupted by the heart of Patrick Bateman. I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, Young-Ha Kim’s first novel (published in Korea in 1996), is a determinedly ”literary” effort — Big Themes, a fractured narrative, shifting characters — that explores, with a delicate but morbid sensibility, the alienating effects of life in the late 20th century. B+