Here’s my first attempt at compiling a list of fiction and poetry titles coming up in 2019. Let me know what I’ve missed. Unlike my separate list of non-fiction I have not exercised any editorial control here: this is everything I have been able to find. The list is in four parts:
- Modern and contemporary fiction in translation
- Pre-modern fiction in translation
- Fiction in English
- Poetry (translated and in English)
1. Modern and contemporary fiction
So, the dream team of Kim Young-ha and Krys Lee is obviously the book I’m most looking forward to this year, particularly as the title story is the one that inspired the movie Memoir of a Murderer. I quite liked the movie, but the source novella is said to be infinitely better.
Another headline publication this year is Readymade Bodhisattva, an anthology of thirteen science and speculative fiction tales by Bok Geo-il, Choi In-hun, Djuna, Jeong Soyeon, Kim Bo-young, Kim Changgyu, Kim Jung-hyuk, Kim Young-ha, Lim Taewoon, Mun Yunseong, Park Seonghwan, Park Min-gyu and Yun I-hyeong. Generously filled at 528 pages, UK readers will need to wait until September, though the book is available in the US from January (if you believe Amazon.com) or March (if you believe the publisher).
From Tilted Axis Press comes a novel from a zainichi Korean (lovely-looking cover), and from Fourth Estate comes another new name: Lee Ji-min (and another good cover). Meanwhile, The Plotters finally makes it to the UK (though why Fourth Estate thought the new cover is an improvement on Text Publications’ original design is a mystery), and the UK release of The Court Dancer appears to be imminent, though with Amazon not listing a price yet I’m not holding my breath.
It’s great that the coverage of names in translation seems to be getting broader. Thanks to Paul Fulcher for drawing to my attention the titles by Kim Yideum and Ha Seong-nan, which are now included in the list below.
|Shin Kyung-sook (tr Anton Hur)||The Court Dancer|
Hardcover: 336 pages
Based on a remarkable true story, the New York Times bestselling author of Please Look After Mother brilliantly imagines the life of Yi Jin, an orphan who would fall under the affections of the Empress and become a jewel in the late Joseon Court.
|Kim Un-su (tr Sora Kim-Russell)||The Plotters|
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Fourth Estate
A thriller like you’ve never read one before, from the hottest new voice in Korean fiction
‘Kill Bill meets Murakami’ D. B. John, author of Star of the North
|Kim Yideum (tr Ji yoon Lee)||Blood Sisters|
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Deep Vellum Publishing
Blood Sisters tells the story of Jeong Yeoul, a young Korean college student in the 1980’s, when the memory of President Chun Doohwan’s violent suppression of student demonstrations against martial law was still fresh. Kim Yideum captures with raw honesty the sense of dread felt by many Korean women during this time as Jeong struggles in a swirl of misguided desires and hopelessness against a society distorted by competing ideologies, sexual violence, and cultural conservatism.
|Ha Seong-Nan (tr Janet Hong)||Flowers of Mold & Other Stories|
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Open Letter
On the surface, Ha Seong-Nan’s stories seem pleasant enough, yet there’s always something disturbing just below the surface, ready to permanently disrupt the characters’ lives.
|Yu Miri (tr Morgan Giles)||Tokyo Ueno Station|
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Tilted Axis Press
“Yu Miri uses her outsider’s perspective as a Zainichi (Korean-Japanese) writer to craft a novel of utmost importance to this moment, a powerful rebuke to the Imperial system and a sensitive, deeply felt depiction of the lives of Japan’s most vulnerable people.”
|Kim Young-Ha (tr Krys Lee)||Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories|
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books
Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories is master short story writer Young-ha Kim’s first collection ever to be published in English. His work has been compared to the novels of Haruki Murakami, Raymond Chandler, and Albert Camus, and he has earned a reputation as the most talented and prolific Korean writer of his generation.
|Lee Ji-min (tr Kim Chi-young)||Marilyn and Me|
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Fourth Estate
“Alice [Marilyn Monroe’s interpreter during her tour in Korea], raw and wry and wearing her grief like armour, is a wonderful character, and her experiences offer a fascinating – and timely – insight into an extraordinary time and place. We are thrilled to be publishing this darkly beautiful novel.”
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Kaya Production, U.S.
Readymade Bodhisattva: The Kaya Anthology of South Korean Science Fiction presents the first book-length English-language translation of science and speculative fiction from South Korea, bringing together 13 classic and contemporary stories from the 1960s through to the 2010s.
2. Pre-modern fiction
I mistakenly thought Nine Cloud Dream was coming out in 2018. In fact it’s currently scheduled for May 2019. A version of the text has been translated before, by Richard Rutt in the RASKB’s collection Virtuous Women, but I’m particularly looking forward to this version for the new introduction and notes from Heinz Insu Fenkl.
3. Fiction in English
I enjoyed Hannah Michell’s debut, The Defections, so of course I’m looking forward to A Buried Life. But I confess that I was not previously acquainted with “the father of Korean American literature” so Younghill Kang’s East Goes West is a priority for me.
Most of Lisa See’s previous work has been set in China. She is probably best known for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which was made into a movie starring Jeon Ji-hyun.
Finally, a trio of novels by Americans of Korean heritage, for which I’m indebted to an article by R.O. Kwon in Electric Literature, where you can find out more about these titles and many other upcoming publications.
Bandi’s collection of short stories was one of my picks of 2017, so the selection of his poetry is at the top of my list for 2019. You can listen to a podcast interview with Emily Jungmin Yoon, translator of Tilted Axis’s new collection and author of her own collections, on New Books Network. Finally, I think this is Kim Hyesoon’s fourth collection to appear in English.
|Kim Hyesoon (tr Don Mee Choi)||Autobiography of Death|
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
The title section of Kim Hyesoon’s powerful new book, Autobiography of Death, consists of forty-nine poems, each poem representing a single day during which the spirit roams after death before it enters the cycle of reincarnation.
|tr Emily Jungmin Yoon||Against Healing: Nine Korean Poets (Translating Feminisms)|
Publisher: Tilted Axis
Translating Feminisms showcases intimate collaborations and conversations between some of Asia’s most exciting women writers and emerging-star translators: contemporary poetry of labour and language, alongside essays exploring how, where and by whom feminist writing and female bodies are translated.
|Emily Jungmin Yoon||A Cruelty Special to Our Species: Poems|
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Ecco Press; Reprint edition
A piercing debut collection of poems exploring gender, race, and violence from a sensational new talent
|Bandi (tr Heinz Insu Fenkl)||The Red Years: Forbidden Poems from Inside North Korea|
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Zed Books
As he did in his first work The Accusation, Bandi here gives us a rare glimpse into everyday life and survival in North Korea. Singularly poignant and evocative, The Red Years stands as a testament to the power of the human spirit to endure and resist even the most repressive of regimes.