Korean literature in translation

Cheon Myeong-Kwan and Han Yujoo are being made to work hard during their visit to London in support of the special Korea issue of the Asia Literary Review. Asia House on 10 May (with Deborah Smith), SOAS on 12 May (again with Deborah Smith), and KCC on 13 May (with Kelly Falconer): Korean Literature Night: […]

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Tony’s Reading List plugs Bae Suah

by Philip Gowman 6 April 2016
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There’s a great article in support of Bae Suah’s Nowhere to be Found (tr Sora Kim-Russell) on Three Percent, by Tony of Tony’s Reading List fame. A year ago he did a review of Nowhere to be Found along with Highway with Green Apples. And in his Three Percent article he passes on this bit of […]

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Event news: K-Lit in the age of Korean Cool

by Philip Gowman 4 April 2016
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For those who are lucky enough to get to the Korean Literature Night at the KCC this month, the author of the featured book will be at Asia House a couple of weeks later: K-Lit in the age of Korean Cool 10 May, 2016, 18:45 – 20:30 Asia House | Book here Hallyu – the […]

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KCC’s April Korean Literature Night features Cheon Myung-kwan’s Modern Family

by Philip Gowman 4 April 2016
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Cheon Myung-kwan is definitely author of the month – he’s appearing at Asia House in May as well as being the subject of this month’s Korean Literature Night. The novel was made into the movie Boomerang Family by director Song Hae-sung, which was the closing gala screening of the 2013 London Korean Film Festival. Korean […]

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Hong Gildong coming soon to Penguin Classics

by Philip Gowman 23 March 2016
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I wonder why it’s taken so long. But coming soon, in a new translation by Minsoo Kang, is The Story of Hong Gildong, “arguably the single most important work of classic Korean fiction,” according to the publishers, Penguin Classics. A release date of 7 July 2016 is mentioned, though Amazon UK is offering it on […]

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Why Han Kang’s Human Acts is likely to be my book of the year

by Philip Gowman 17 February 2016
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Han Kang: Human Acts Translated by Deborah Smith Portobello Books, 2016, 224pp Originally published as 소년이 온다, Changbi Publishers Inc, Seoul, 2014 Han Kang’s Human Acts hits the bookshelves in the UK just as The Vegetarian starts to make waves in the US. The latter book has already made its mark in the UK, making […]

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Deborah Smith wins Literary Translation award.

by Philip Gowman 29 January 2016
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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: Shin Kyung-sook — 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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