London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Event news: Deborah Smith on translating Bae Suah

Deborah Smith’s latest Bae Suah translation, Recitation, is now available in bookshops. This month you have the opportunity to hear some of the challenges of translating it, courtesy of SOAS’s Centre for Translation Studies:

Close to a State of Linguistic Weightlessness: On Translating Bae Suah

Dr Deborah Smith (Korean-English translator, Publisher/Editor at Tilted Axis Press)
23 February 2017, 6:00 – 7:00 PM
Paul Webley Wing (Senate House), SOAS Alumni Lecture Theatre (SALT 110)
Open to students, scholars, public, alumni. Free entry, no booking required



The talk will focus on some of the practical issues encountered when translating Recitation, a novel by South Korean author Bae Suah, whose own practice as a translator (from German to Korean) informs both the language and ideas of her own fiction. In particular, the discussion will take in the search for equivalences of effect given the relative power / political connotations of different languages, and the difficulties of retaining the ‘strangeness’ and idiosyncrasies of an experimental author while managing the expectations of a US editor and readers.

About the speaker

Deborah Smith studied for an MA and PhD in Korean literature at SOAS. Her translations of Korean literature include The Vegetarian and Human Acts by Han Kang, and A Greater Music and Recitation by Bae Suah. In 2015 Deborah founded Tilted Axis Press to publish contemporary Asian literature. In 2016 her translation of The Vegetarian won the Man Booker International Prize, an LTI Korea Award and an Arts Foundation Award.

About the book

The meeting between a group of emigrants and a mysterious, wandering actress in an empty railway station sets the stage for Bae Suah’s fragmentary yet lyrical meditation on language, travel, and memory. As the actress recounts the fascinating story of her stateless existence, an unreliable narrator and the interruptions of her audience challenge traditional notions of storytelling and identity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.