July’s literature event organised by the KCCUK features a well-received graphic novel. Author Keum Suk Gendry-Kim and translator Janet Hong will give a live virtual talk about her novel ‘Grass’. Following the talk, author Kim will respond to questions from the audience.
by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, translated by Janet Hong
Wednesday 28 July 2021 – 1pm
Registration required by 11 July
Grass is a powerful anti-war graphic novel, offering up firsthand the life story of a Korean girl named Okseon Lee who was forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the second World War. Beginning in Lee’s childhood, Grass shows the lead up to World War II from a child’s vulnerable perspective, detailing how one person experienced the Japanese occupation and the widespread suffering it entailed for ordinary Korean folk.
Keum Suk Gendry-Kim emphasizes Lee’s strength in overcoming the many forms of adversity she experienced. Grass is painted in a black ink that flows with lavish details of the beautiful fields and farmland of Korea and uses heavy brushwork on the sombre interiors of Lee’s memories. Cartoonist Gendry-Kim’s interviews with Lee become an integral part of Grass, forming the heart and architecture of this powerful non-fiction graphic novel and offering a holistic view of how Lee’s wartime suffering changed her. Grass is a landmark graphic novel that makes personal the desperate cost of war and the importance of peace.
Grass won the Harvey Award for Best International Book, a US award known as the Oscars of comics. Excerpts (in Korean Literature Now).
Keum Suk Gendry-Kim
Keum Suk Gendry-Kim was born in Goheung in Jeolla Province, a county famous for its beautiful mountains and shores. She has written and illustrated the graphic novels Grass, The Waiting, Jiseul, Jun, The Naked Tree, and Alexandra Kim, a Woman of Siberia; the autobiographical comic The Song of My Father; the three-volume children’s comic Kkokkaengi; the picture books The Baby Hanyeo Okrang Goes to Dokdo and A Day with My Grandpa; and the children’s book My Mother Kang Geumsun. Grass appeared on Best of the Year lists from the New York Times and the Guardian, and received the Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic of the Year and the Big Other Book Award for Best Graphic Novel in 2019, and the Harvey Award for Best International Book and the Krause Essay Prize in 2020. The Waiting, her second book to appear in English translation, is forthcoming from Drawn & Quarterly in September 2021.
Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She has been translating literary works by notable Korean writers, including Kang Young-sook, Han Yu-joo and Kwon Yeo-sun, for the last 20 years. Her work has appeared in Brick: A Literary Journal, Literary Hub, Asia Literary Review, Words Without Borders, and the Korea Times.