This Korean phenomenon novel will make you dream

Bestseller in South Korea, with a number one sales position held for three weeks, the novel The Department Store of Dreams by Lee Mi-ye tells the daily life of the store where we go while we sleep, to acquire our dreams. A jewel of tenderness, to make peace with your nights.

What if you sold dreams? For Penny, it’s not just a metaphor, but her real job. The Department Store of Dreams, signed by the Korean writer Lee Mi-ye and published in France by Piquier in January 2024, deploys treasures of creativity to imagine an entire kingdom that is active during our nights. The sleepers meet there, and converge in an immense place, on four floors: a store where to acquire dreams.

Penny is more precisely a receptionist there: throughout her working day, she welcomes dreamers, guiding them so that everyone can find what they are looking for — choosing a dream that suits you is not so easy! All this under the benevolent direction of the mysterious Dollagoot, the manager of the store.

She doesn’t know that every night she goes to the store »

She’s a regular at the store. She has been with him since her childhood. She knows that she tends to dream a lot, but she doesn’t know that every night she goes to the store, because she forgets everything when she wakes up. »

The author, Lee Mi-ye.
The author, Lee Mi-ye.

Throughout the novel, all types of dreams occur: premonitory dreams, childhood memories, heavenly escapades, romantic encounters, nightmares. Each of these dreams is put through the mill of an intimate, often touching story. Story after story, crossing destinies, the author connects our nights and our days through this imaginary kingdom where the laying bare of feelings resonates as evidence.

As a result, we feel terribly good when reading Lee Mi-ye, because we cannot detach ourselves from the sensation of being understood: she captures dreams as peaceful artifacts of our lives. They are the tumultuous result or the expression of ardent desires sometimes, certainly, but they play a profound role: that of a pause. “ The moment I like is when everyone is asleep. During sleep, all regrets about the past and all anxiety about the future disappear. »

During sleep, all regrets about the past and all anxiety about the future disappear. »

And then there is a certain magic in discovering this nocturnal world that we forget when we wake up: Lee Mi-ye paints the portrait of authors of dreams, whose profession — and vocation! — is to design these dreams for the store. Do not imagine, however, that The Department Store of Dreams adds commercialism to the sacred realm of our dreams: payment is not only deferred, but absolutely not financial. These are emotions – such as palpitation (for a romantic dream) or self-esteem (for a professional dream) – which are at the heart of the exchange. If you don’t feel anything when you wake up, then it doesn’t cost you anything. No overconsumption either, the store manager insists: they sell just the right amount of dreams, so as not to disconnect from reality.

Full of sensitivity and poetry in his story, Lee Mi-ye helps us to make peace with our nights and thus with the harshness of reality. This is tender and original.

The Department Store of DreamsLee Mi-ye, Éditions Piquier, 320 pages

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