Korean literature in translation

LKL reports from two events involving Hwang Sun-mi at the London Book Fair in Earls Court. So you think Hwang Sun-mi’s bestselling book The hen who dreamed she could fly is all about maternal sacrifice? Think again. It could be that you’ve been influenced by the film adaptation Leafie, a hen into the wild. During […]

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LTI Korea video: Yi Mun-yol in conversation with Claire Armitstead

by Philip Gowman 19 April 2014
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Here is LTI Korea’s video of Yi Mun-yol in conversation with The Guardian‘s Claire Armitstead at the English PEN Literary Salon, Earls Court on the last day of the London Book Fair 2014, 10 April 2014: Links: LTI Korea website | YouTube channel Authors: Yi Mun-yol (이문열)

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LTI Korea video: Shin Kyung-sook in conversation with Arifa Akbar

by Philip Gowman 19 April 2014
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Here is LTI Korea’s video of Shin Kyung-sook in conversation with The Independent‘s Arifa Akbar on the first day of the London Book Fair. The topic is mainly Please Look After Mother, but also we talk about I’ll be Right There, and we learn about what Shin is working on right now. LKL’s question comes […]

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Lee Jung-myung in London to promote The Investigation

by Philip Gowman 12 April 2014
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Unannounced to any apart from the Korean press, Lee Jung-myung was in town this week with his agent, signing copies of his novel The Investigation (another Kim Chi-young translation). He appeared at Goldsboro Books on Monday night, 7 April – the day before the Book Fair opened. The man behind the counter described the book […]

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“Asian Literature” in Hong Kong

by Philip Gowman 5 April 2014
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Before we get carried away by the idea of the new Korean Literature Wave, here’s the “Asian Literature” (in English translation) section of a decent Hong Kong bookstore this week (Page One in Times Square). Almost 50% Murakami, some Japanese Asia Extreme, and some Chinese. While this would be a normal state of affairs in […]

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10 things to read before the London Book Fair

by Philip Gowman 3 April 2014
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The London Book Fair is nearly upon us, and as you well know: the more you put in to something, the more you get out. So here is your preparatory reading (and listening) list: The April edition of Words without Borders: a Korea special, including works by Shin Kyung-sook, Kim Young-ha and Han Kang (all […]

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Book review: Lee Ki-ho — At Least we can Apologize

by Philip Gowman 27 March 2014
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Lee Ki-ho: At Least We Can Apologize Translated by Christopher J Dykas Dalkey Archive, 2013, 185pp Originally published as 사과는 잘해요, 2009 What do you do to make money when you have a limited set of skills? In this dark comedy the two central characters, who find themselves unexpectedly set free from a mysterious mental […]

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Book Review: Hwang Sunmi — The Hen who Dreamed she could Fly

by Philip Gowman 26 February 2014
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Hwang Sun-mi: The Hen who dreamed she could fly Translated by Kim Chi-young; illustrations by Nomoco Oneworld Publications, 2014, 124pp First published as 마당을 나온 암탉, 2000 A brief fable that can delight children and adults alike, the story touches on themes of motherly love, discrimination, otherness, and belonging, while also touching on and accepting […]

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Book Review: Gong Ji-young — Our Happy Time

by Philip Gowman 24 February 2014
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Gong Ji-young: Our Happy Time Translated by Sora Kim-Russell Short Books, 2014, 269pp. Originally published as 우리들의 행복한 시간, 2005 Our Happy Time is not the obvious title for a novel in which a three-times attempted suicide goes reluctantly to visit a convicted murderer awaiting execution on death row. But strangely, as the relationship between […]

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Korean Literature Nights: the programme for the year

by Philip Gowman 19 February 2014
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The schedule for the literature nights at the KCC this year has been announced. The first one booked out within minutes. Booking for Your Republic is Calling You is now open. Date Author Book 26 Feb Shin Kyung-Sook Please Look after Mother (LKL Review) 26 Mar Kim Young-Ha Your Republic is Calling you (LKL Review) […]

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The Korean Novels on Screen Programme at the KCC

by Philip Gowman 17 February 2014
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The KCC, in conjunction with the British Council, has announced its programme of films inspired by Korean literature. Two and a half of the films have their original stories available in English translation. The ones available in English are The Road to Sampo and Leafie. The half-film is The Scarlet Letter, which is based both […]

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Waterstones stocks up on Hwang Sunmi

by Philip Gowman 13 February 2014
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Seen at the Waterstones in Canary Wharf today: a pile of Hwang Sunmi’s The Hen who Dreamed She Could Fly. Nice to see that they’re including it in the buy one, get one half price promotion. My neighbourhood bookstore at home rang me today to tell me my own copy had arrived, so I’ll be […]

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Book review: Jung Young-moon — A Chain of Dark Tales

by Philip Gowman 10 February 2014
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Jung Young-moon: A Chain of Dark Tales Translated by Inrae You & Louis Vinciguerra Stallion Press, 2010, 199pp Originally published in 1998 as 검은 이야기 사슬 Jung Young-moon’s chain of forty-five dark tales are dark indeed. Not in a way that will give you nightmares, but in a way that makes you feel mildly uneasy. They inhabit […]

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How to organise and accommodate an ever-growing library?

by Philip Gowman 9 February 2014
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When I started this Korean lark over 10 years ago, obviously I didn’t have any books on the subject. Over the years, the collection has been piling up, literally. Translated literature; novels in English by Koreans and by foreigners about Korea; the regrettably necessary section on North Korea; books on Korean art, history, film, music, […]

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Kim Hyesoon’s I’m OK, I’m Pig! upcoming in time for London Book Fair

by Philip Gowman 6 February 2014
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Kim Hyesoon is the latest author to benefit from the London Book Fair. Kim’s collection of poems I’m OK, I’m Pig! will be forthcoming in April from Bloodaxe Books (the same publishers who brought out Ko Un’s latest collection First Person Sorrowful last year). Kim will be at the London Book Fair, and is the […]

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What to look out for in the run-up to the London Book Fair 2014

by Philip Gowman 5 February 2014
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The British Council’s and KCCUK’s involvement with the Korea market focus of the London Book Fair will ensure a range of events to examine and promote Korean literature in translation. In fact, the KCC will be focusing on literature all year. And that’s in addition to publishers using the fair as a prompt to publish […]

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KCC launches its Korean Literature Night series

by Philip Gowman 3 February 2014
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You’ve all read Please Look After Mother by now. What did you think of what is probably the most successful piece of translated Korean fiction ever? If you haven’t read it already, the KCC is granting an amnesty, giving you the opportunity to read it and then discuss it with like-minded people afterwards. It’s part […]

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