Korean literature in translation

Han Kang says she’s “amazing”. Deborah Levy says she’s “obviously a genius”. And now, congratulations to Deborah Smith for winning The Arts Foundation Literary Translation Award 2016. According to the TLS blog, the award comes with a £10,000 bursary which Deborah plans to use “to fund research into the Korean author Yi Chong-jun” (Your Paradise, […]

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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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Event news: launch of Han Kang’s Human Acts

by Philip Gowman 17 December 2015
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Three separate opportunities to hear Han Kang talk about her newly-translated book, Human Acts – a Norwich appearance sandwiched in between two London ones. If you can’t wait to get hold of a copy of the book, Foyles (whose event is 13 Jan) claim they have “exclusive availability of Human Acts for a full month […]

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Book review: Kim Namcheon – Scenes from the Enlightenment

by Philip Gowman 11 December 2015
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Kim Namcheon — Scenes from the Enlightenment Translated by Charles La Shure Dalkey Archive, 2014, 254pp orignally published as 대하, Inmunsa 1939. A brief review, because this is a book I never finished. The blurb on the back of the book sums the contents up well: An account of seemingly trivial events – a wedding […]

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Book review: Hwang Sok-yong — Princess Bari

by Philip Gowman 7 December 2015
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Hwang Sok-yong: Prices Bari Periscope, 2015, 240pp Translated by Sora Kim-Russell Originally published as 바리데기, 2007 Princess Bari is Hwang Sok-yong’s fourth full-length novel to be translated into English. It is also the most recent, having been originally published in 2007. And for a British audience it is one of the most immediately accessible, being […]

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Book Review: Cho Chongnae — How in Heaven’s Name

by Philip Gowman 4 December 2015
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Cho Chongnae: How in Heaven’s Name Translated by Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton Merwin Asia, 2012, 141 pages. Originally published as 오 하느님 (O God) and renamed 사람의 탈 (Human Mask) How in Heaven’s Name is an appropriate title for the mind-boggling story of how a group of Korean country lads came to be fighting in […]

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Book Review: Ahn Do-hyun — The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher

by Philip Gowman 28 November 2015
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Ahn Do-hyun: The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher Panmacmillan 2015, 122pp Translated by Deborah Smith Originally published as 연어, Munhakdongne, 1996. Ahn Do-hyun is a bestselling poet and this is his first novel to be translated into English. The English title for this translation is an interesting one – clearly echoing the English title […]

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Book review: Han Kang — The Vegetarian

by Philip Gowman 26 November 2015
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Han Kang: The Vegetarian Translated by Deborah Smith Portobello Books, 2015, 183pp Originally published as 채식주의자, Seoul 2007 Sometimes, reading translated Korean literature can be a bit of a private affair. You read it, you maybe enjoy it and appreciate it, but you think twice about recommending it to a non Koreaphile; or if you […]

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Book news: Han Kang’s Human Acts coming in January 2016

by Philip Gowman 4 November 2015
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Han Kang is among the eight women writers whose books have been awarded an English PEN grant in the latest round. Han, acclaimed author of The Vegetarian, will publish her novel Human Acts in January 2016 with the backing of both a PEN Promotes and a PEN Translates grant. Deborah Smith once again translates, and […]

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Sophie Bowman wins Korea Times translation award

by Philip Gowman 4 November 2015
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Way back in the summer of 2008, when the KCCUK ran its first language class for beginners in Korean, one of the students on the inaugural course was Sophie Bowman. Unlike another student in the same class (me) Sophie has progressed somewhat since then. Many congratulations to her on winning the Korea Times Grand Prize […]

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Book review: I’ll be right there

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2015
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Shin Kyung-sook: I’ll Be Right There Translated by Sora Kim-Russell Other Press, New York, 2014, 325pp Originally published as 어디선가 나를 찾는 전화벨이 울리고, Somewhere A Phone Is Ringing For Me, 2010 There are people who liked Shin Kyung-sook’s most famous work – Please Look After Mother – and those that didn’t. In the latter […]

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Book news: Han Kang at the Edinburgh Book Festival

by Philip Gowman 14 August 2015
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Hang Kang will be appearing with Mary Costello at the Edinburgh Book Festival. And you can vote for Han Kang’s The Vegetarian for the First Book Award here. The Quest for Another Life Mary Costello & Han Kang Sun 16 Aug 7:00pm – 8:00pm Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre £7.00, £5.00 Book here ‘Heartbreaking’ and ‘packed […]

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Event news: Talk & See with Hwang Sun-mi

by Philip Gowman 13 August 2015
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A lovely book, and a charming film – though obviously the author prefers the original. Hwang Sun-mi will be on hand to discuss both this Sunday at a talk and screening. Talk & See with Hwang Sun-mi Sunday 16 August, 4pm £10 (Children free) Soho Hotel | 4 Richmond Mews | London W1D 3DH We […]

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KWK Talk: A Korean Literary Evening with Deborah Smith, 4 Aug

by Philip Gowman 28 June 2015
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One of two discussions on aspects of contemporary Korean culture as part of Kingston Welcomes Korea – the other featuring Colette Balmain on the vengeful ghost in Korean movies. Deborah Smith’s translation credits include Han Kang’s The Vegetarian as well as Ahn Do-hyun’s fable mentioned below. The venue is New Malden Library – conveniently close […]

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A Poetry Evening with Ko Un and Brother Anthony

by Philip Gowman 27 June 2015
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Ko Un is paying one of his regular visits to the UK in July, with a reading at the KCC on 15 July which follows his appearance at the Ledbury Poetry Festival: A Poetry Evening with Ko Un Ko Un with Brother Anthony of Taizé reading in Korean and English Wednesday 15 July 2015, 7pm […]

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Ko Un and Brother Anthony at the Ledbury Poetry Festival

by Philip Gowman 27 June 2015
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Ko Un will be appearing at the Ledbury Poetry Festival with Brother Anthony this month, before coming to London: Ko Un and Brother Anthony 12 July 2015, 4.15pm–5.15pm Burgage Hall | Church Lane | Ledbury | Herefordshire HR8 1DW Box office 01531 636 232 | £9 Andrew Motion, in his introduction to First Person Sorrowful, […]

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Hwang Sok-yong returns to London

by Philip Gowman 13 May 2015
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A little over a year after the London Book Fair, at which his Vietnam war novel The Shadow of Arms was launched, Hwang Sok-yong returned to London to launch Sora Kim-Russell’s translation of his 2007 novel Princess Bari. Hwang appeared at Asia House today for a book-signing and conversation with Guardian literary critic Maya Jaggi, […]

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