Last year, the Korean Literature Translation Institute launched an essay competition to encourage people to read Korean Literature in translation. The title chosen was Ch’oe Yun’s There a Petal Silently Falls – a novella which I personally struggled with. In my own feeble submission, I suggested that a colonial period novel would have been a more obvious choice. I was thinking more of a novel actually written under Japanese occupation, but the choice for this year’s competition is a 1992 autobiographical novel covering the colonial period: Park Wan-suh’s Who ate up all the shinga?
The response to last year’s competition has obviously encouraged the organisers to think big this year. They’re offering 60 free copies of the novel – translated by Yu Young-nam and Stephen Epstein – to those who enter the competition. I’ve already secured my own copy, in the hope that Park Wan-suh’s novel will be more approachable than Ch’oe Yun’s.
The novel got an enthusiastic, if brief, review from the FT last year, if you need any further encouragement, while Charles Montgomery at the Korean Literature blog calls it “a great read, on multiple levels”. The UK winner will receive a Samsung laptop, and if you are an international winner you get a trip to Seoul. And whether you win or not, it’s an excuse to explore some new literature, so what have you got to lose?