2014 Korean Literature Nights

Here are the Korean Literature discussion nights that the KCC has lined up for 2014:

Wed 26 Feb Please Look After Mother by Shin Kyung-sook

Please Look After Mother is the story of So-nyo, a wife and mother, who has lived a life of sacrifice and compromise. In the past she suffered a stroke, leaving her vulnerable and often confused. Now, travelling from the Korean countryside to the Seoul of her grown-up children, So-nyo is separated from her husband when the doors close on a packed train.

As her children and husband search the streets, they recall So-nyo’s life, and all they have left unsaid. Through their piercing voices, we begin to discover the desires, heartaches, and secrets she harboured within. And as the mystery of her disappearance unravels, we uncover a larger mystery, that of all mothers and children: how affection, exasperation, hope and guilt add up to love. Compassionate, redemptive and beautifully written, Please Look After Mother will reconnect you to the story of your own family, and to the forgotten sacrifices that lie at its heart. [LKL review here]

Wed 26 Mar Your Republic is Calling You by Kim Young-ha

[LKL review here]

Wed 30 Apr The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Hwang Sun-mi

This is the story of a hen named Sprout. No longer content to lay eggs on command only to have them carted off to the market, she glimpses her future every morning through the barn doors, where the other animals roam free, and comes up with a plan to escape into the wild—and to hatch an egg of her own. An anthem for individuality and motherhood, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly has captivated millions of readers in Korea. Now the novel is making its way around the world, where it has the potential to inspire generations of readers the way Jonathan Livingston Seagull or The Alchemist have. And with Nomoco’s evocative illustrations throughout, this first English-language edition beautifully captures the journey of an unforgettable character in world literature. [LKL review here]

Wed 28 May I have the Right to Destroy Myself by Kim Young-ha

[Brief LKL review here]

Wed 25 Jun Our Twisted Hero by Yi Mun-yol

[LKL review here]

Wed 30 Jul The Guest by Hwang Sok-yong

[Brief LKL review here]

Wed 24 Sep The Long Road by Min Insuk

The Long Road is a moving, elegiac short novel that examines the processes that caused idealistic young Koreans to depart for overseas during the 1990s in the wake of their experiences under Korea’s darker days of military dictatorship in the 1980s. The story centres on a trio of men: Han-Yeong, who although initially attracted to the freedom that Australia seems to promise, comes to feel increasingly ambivalent about his life there; his brother Han-Rim, a former minor singing star who fell afoul of the authorities in Korea for a song seen as critical of the government; and Myeong-U, who had been a student activist in Korea and develops psychological difficulties during his time in custody for protest.

Invited by Han-Rim to take a fishing trip on the boat that he now operates, the three set off for a day on the open sea in ominous weather. As a storm arises, the novel follows the thoughts of Han-Yeong, leading from flashback to ultimate epiphany, as he reflects on his relationship with Australia, his brother, Myeong-U’s troubled history and his anguished memories of Seo-Yeon, the woman he left behind in Korea. Winner of the 1995 Hanguk Ilbo Literary prize, The Long Road is the sole piece of Korean Literature in English that treats the Korean diaspora experience in Australia. [LKL review here]

Wed 29 Oct Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers by Kim Hyesoon

The first full-length English language edition of one of the foremost woman poets in Modern Korean poetry. Kim Hyesoon was the first woman recipient of the prestigious Kim Suyong Contemporary Poetry Award, and is the author of eight collections of poetry. In Kim Hyesoon's saturated political fables, horror is packed inside cuteness, cuteness inside horror. Interior and exterior, political and intimate, human and animal, agent and victim become interchangeable, interbreeding elements. No subjecthood is fixed in this microscape of shifts, swellings, tender subjugations and acts of cruel selflessness.

Wed 26 Nov Shadow of Arms by Hwang Sok-yong

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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