London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

2016 Korean Literature Nights

Here are the Korean Literature Nights currently scheduled for 2016.

Thu 25 Feb The Investigation By Lee Jung-myung

Fukuoka Prison, 1944. Beyond the prison walls the war rages; inside a man is found brutally murdered. Yuichi Watanabe, a young guard with a passion for reading, is ordered to investigate. The victim, Sugiyama – also a guard – was feared and despised throughout the prison. Inquiries have barely begun when a powerful inmate confesses, but Watanabe is unconvinced; and as he interrogates both the suspect and Yun Dong-ju, a talented Korean poet, he begins to realise that the fearsome guard was not all that he appeared to be… [LKL review here]

Thu 31 Mar The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher by Ahn Do hyun

The life of the salmon is a predictable one: swimming upstream to the place of its birth to spawn, and then to die. This is the story of the salmon whose silver scales mark him out as different – who dares to leap beyond his fate. It’s a story about growing up, and about aching and ardent love. For swimming upstream means pursuing something the salmon cannot see: a dream. This book is a wise, tender and inspiring modern fable about finding freedom and harmony with nature. [LKL review here]

Thu 28 Apr Modern Family by Cheon Myeong-kwan

Forty-year-old In-mo, a movie director who’s been unable to find a work after his first film was a colossal flop, realizes his only option is to move in with his widowed mother. His older brother, who already has five criminal convictions, has already moved into the small apartment. Then younger sister Mi-yeon, whose husband has thrown her out of the house for cheating on him, arrives with her bratty, rebellious fifteen-year-old daughter. The neighbours watch and gossip as this dysfunctional modern family tries to adapt to their circumstances…[LKL review here]

Thu 26 May Nowhere to be Found, by Bae Suah

A nameless narrator passes through life, searching for meaning and connection in experiences she barely feels. For her, time and identity blur, and all action is reaction. She can’t quite understand what motivates others to take life seriously enough to focus on anything for her existence is a loosely woven tapestry of fleeting concepts. From losing her virginity to mindless jobs and a splintered, unsupportive family, the lessons learned have less to do with the reality we all share and more to do with the truth of the imagination, which is where the narrator focuses to discover herself.

Thu 30 Jun Lost Souls, by Hwang Sun-won

These captivating short stories portray three major periods in modern Korean history: the forces of colonial modernity during the late 1930s; the postcolonial struggle to rebuild society after four decades of oppression, emasculation, and cultural exile (1945 to 1950); and the attempt to reconstruct a shattered land and a traumatized nation after the Korean War. Surrealist tales suggest the unsettling sensation of colonial domination, while stories of the outcast embody the thrill and terror of independence and survival in a land dominated by tradition and devastated by war. [LKL review here]

Thu 28 Jul Lonesome You, by Park Wan-suh

Well before her death in 2011, Park Wan-Suh had established herself as a canonical figure in Korean literature. Her work-often based upon her own personal experiences, and showing keen insight into divisive social issues from the Korean partition to the position of women in Korean society-has touched readers for over forty years. In this collection, meditations upon life in old age come to the fore-at its best, accompanied by great beauty and compassion; at its worst by a cynicism that nonetheless turns a bitter smile upon the changing world. [LKL review here]

Thu 25 Aug A Contrived World, by Jung Young-moon

Set in San Francisco, A Most Contrived World recounts the author’s visit to the mythic Californian city. While the novel is based on this real experience, the narrator’s imaginative reflections cause the narrative to balloon outward into the realms of fiction and fantasy. Each chance encounter provides an opportunity to unfurl a fictional world that simultaneously complements and compromises the real world. In this mirthful antinovel, the ambiguous fusion of observation and invention disrupts the conventions of personal memoir and travel writing, resulting in a chronicle that sets fiction against experience.

Thu 29 Sep No One Writes Back, by Jang Eun-jin

Communication – or the lack thereof – is the subject of this sly update of the picaresque. No One Writes Back is the story of a young man who leaves home with only his blind dog, an MP3 player, and a book, traveling aimlessly for three years, from motel to motel, meeting people on the road. The narrator writes letters to these men and women in the hope that he can console them in their various miseries, as well as keep a record of his own experiences: “A letter is like a journal entry for me, except that it gets sent to other people.” No one writes back, of course, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some hope that one of them will, someday… [LKL review here]

Thu 27 Oct How in Heaven’s Name, by Cho Chongnae

It is based on the true story of several Korean youths who in the late 1930s were lured into the Japanese Imperial Army either through promises by the Japanese colonial overlords of a government clerkship upon discharge or by means of threats to transplant their entire families to colonial outposts in Manchuria. [LKL review here]

Thu 24 Nov Scenes from the Enlightenment, by Kim Namcheon

Scenes from the Enlightenment: A Novel of Manners is the story of a country on the cusp of modernity. First published in 1939, Kim Namcheon’s classic text, through the close, quiet study of a single nineteenth-century village, tracks Korea’s early development from a society bound by the rules of family, rank and gender towards a ‘new-style,’ enlightened, westernised nation, complete with bicycles and mewly built roads. [LKL review here]

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

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