Novels in English

There’s a nice feature on James Church and his Inspector O series in the NYT. Well worth a read, as are the books themselves. Here’s a good quote from the article: “If you want to understand North Korea then you need to read Inspector O,” said Michael Madden, who has spent years studying the North […]

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Krys Lee featured in the Guardian

by Philip Gowman 13 August 2016
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There’s a really good interview with Krys Lee (Drifting House, How I Became a North Korean) in The Guardian: “The acclaimed short story writer talks about her debut novel, trying to understand her violent father and moving back from the US to South Korea”. The novel is available on Amazon from 18 August. Krys Lee […]

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A look back at the books of 2015

by Philip Gowman 16 January 2016
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In place of our annual “LKL Awards” post, we look at some of the highlights of 2015 in the area of books, film and music. Apart from the field of literature in translation (and of course I’m talking Han Kang here), there are no clear winners or I haven’t covered enough ground to choose one. […]

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Free short story by Heinz Insu Fenkl

by Philip Gowman 22 September 2015
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Five Arrows, a short story by writer and translator Heinz Insu Fenkl is available in the August issue of New Yorker magazine. If you’re lazy there’s an audio version on Soundcloud available here. And at the bottom of the New Yorker webpage you’ll find a link to his translation of the Yi Mun-yol story which […]

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Brief book review: Mark James Russell — Young-hee and the Pullocho

by Philip Gowman 17 July 2015
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Mark James Russell: Young-hee and the Pullocho Tuttle Publishing, 2015, 258pp So annoying. I get sent a review copy of a work of fiction. I warn them that I probably won’t have time to read it properly, but promise to do my best to have a quick flick through it and to write a polite notice […]

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Book Review: The Defections, by Hannah Michell. Put it on your wishlist

by Philip Gowman 23 December 2013
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Hannah Michell: The Defections Quercus, 2014, 336pp THE BRITISH EMBASSY, SEOUL STAFF RECORD NAME: Kim, Mia D.O.B: 27/10/1979 POSITION: Translator REPORTS TO: Dalton-Ellis, Thomas NATIONALITY: Korean ETHNICITY: Mixed – Korean/British BACKGROUND NOTES: Born, was educated and lives in Seoul. Family – father, disabled – stepmother, seamstress – mother, English, unknown – uncle, runs school for […]

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Book review: Martin Limón — The Joy Brigade

by Philip Gowman 30 July 2013
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Martin Limón: The Joy Brigade Soho Press, 2012. 304pp Martin Limón’s eighth novel in the Ernie Bascom and George Sueño series covers new ground in many respects. It is the first novel in which we see Sueno on his own, not accompanied by his buddy Bascom. And it is the first time that Limon has […]

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Krys Lee interviewed for Asia House

by Philip Gowman 17 April 2013
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There’s a nice interview with Krys Lee, author of Drifting House, on the Asia House website. Drifting House was LKL’s book of the year last year, and so we’re looking forward to seeing Ms Lee at the Asia House Festival of Asian Literature next month. Authors: Krys Lee

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Orphan Master wins Pulitzer

by Philip Gowman 16 April 2013
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At LKL we were lukewarm, but we don’t mind being in the minority. So congratulations to Adam Johnson for winning the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, “for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life,” with The Orphan Master’s Son. Source: www.pulitzer.org Authors: Adam Johnson

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Book review: Yoko Kawashima Watkins — So Far from the Bamboo Grove

by Philip Gowman 30 November 2012
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Yoko Kawashima Watkins: So Far from the Bamboo Grove Harper Collins, 1986 Reprinted with letter from the author, 2008 183pp This time last year, Wikileaks revealed that when Mitt Romney, then Governor of Massachussetts, visited Korea in December 2006, one of the topics raised by the Korean Acting Foreign Minister Cho Jung-pyo was this short […]

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Book Review: Martin Limón — Mr Kill

by Philip Gowman 23 November 2012
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Martin Limón: Mr Kill Soho Crime, 2011, 375pp Damn. He’s never done this before. This is Martin Limón’s 7th novel in his exciting, action-packed series featuring George Sueño and Ernie Bascom, investigators in the military police attached to the US 8th Army in 1970s Seoul Although the novels have been written over the course of […]

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Am I alone among Korea-followers in being a huge fan of Martin Limón?

by Philip Gowman 30 October 2012
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Having read all seven of his previous novels, I’m delighted to have discovered that the 8th was published a few weeks ago. He might have thrown historical credibility to the winds this time round, but who cares? It sounds an absolute blast: Seoul, early 1970s: US Army Sergeant George Sueño is on a mission of […]

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The Orphan Master’s Son: best left in the orphanage

by Philip Gowman 23 March 2012
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Adam Johnson: The Orphan Master’s Son Doubleday, 2012 The publication of The Orphan Master’s Son, the second novel by Adam Johnson, had lucky timing, surfing the wave of interest in the North caused by the death of Kim Jong-il. The newspapers duly lined up to review it to general acclaim, but an early battleground formed: […]

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FT interviews with author Krys Lee

by Philip Gowman 21 January 2012
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Small talk: interview with Korean American writer Krys Lee in the FT http://t.co/VN4wRXzT (via @rjkoehler). Her first book, Drifting House, a collection of short stories set in North Korea, South Korea and the US, is now available on Amazon.

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Book review: Richard E Kim — The Martyred

by Philip Gowman 29 November 2011
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Richard E. Kim: The Martyred First published by George Braziller, 1964 Published in Penguin Classics 2011, with introduction by Heinz Insu Fenzl and Preface by Susan Choi. 199 pp Fourteen North Korean priests are rounded up by the communists just before North Korea invades the South in June 1950. Twelve of the priests are shot, […]

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Book Review: Martin Limón — G.I. Bones

by Philip Gowman 18 November 2011
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Martin Limón: G.I. Bones Soho Crime 2009 G.I. Bones is the sixth in Martin Limón’s excellent series featuring George Sueño and Ernie Bascom, detectives from the US military based in 1970s Seoul. The first in the series, Jade Lady Burning, was published nearly 20 years ago in 1992, but our investigators are still in their […]

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Sergeants Sueño & Bascom return with Mr Kill

by Philip Gowman 13 November 2011
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Sergeants Sueño & Bascom return in December with Mr. Kill – the 7th in Martin Limón’s excellent detective series set in 70s Seoul. So far, on Kindle only. http://t.co/WvNAx8eT Authors: Martin Limón

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