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Upcoming literature and fiction titles for 2022

Nine fiction in translation covers

Last year was an amazing one for Korean literature in translation, with plenty of lively titles published. 2022 looks for the moment like it’s going to be a little quieter, but new publications sometimes pop out of nowhere, so this list of anticipated books for this year is almost bound to be proved incomplete.

Penguin short storiesThere are nine upcoming translated titles on my radar, including a pretty exciting-looking anthology, plus a nice mix of well-established and new authors, across a variety of genres, coming to our stores.

First, it’s nice that Korean literature is now considered mainstream enough to have a Penguin Book of Korean Short Stories. Expected in September and currently planned at 513 pages, the collection is curated by Bruce Fulton. The stories have a range of translators, though Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton are responsible for just under half of the translations. At the time of writing the full list of stories has not been made public, though the publisher teases us with the names of some of the authors who have made the cut. We are promised a selection that “captures a hundred years of Korea’s vibrant short-story tradition”.

cover art for first three titles

Now for the single-author volumes, of which probably the highest profile is Shin Kyung-sook‘s Violets (tr Anton Hur, pub Weidenfeld + Nicolson), expected in April: “A story of desire and violence about a young woman who everyone forgot, VIOLETS is a captivating and sensual read, full of tragedy but also beauty in its lush, vibrant prose.” Also expected in April is Kim Hye-jin‘s Concerning My Daughter (tr Jamie Chang pub Picador) which comes with the following endorsement from Cho Nam-joo, author of Kim Ji-young Born 1982: “I can’t help but be moved by a story about women meeting, fighting, helping each other, looking after one another, and raising their voices against the prejudice and criticism they are subject to.” But before either of those, in March, comes the latest K-thriller title, Gu Byeong-mo‘s The Old Woman with the Knife (tr Kim Chi-young pub Hanover Square): the “kinetic story of a sixty-five-year-old female assassin who faces an unexpected threat in the twilight of her career.”

cover art for second three titles

Two of the above titles – Violets and the Gu Byeong-mo – have been introduced by the Barbara J Zitwer agency. She also promises three more during 2022 – all translated by Brother Anthony – though at present only one of them seems to have a 2022 date committed by a publisher. The title that looks certain for this year is Lee Geum-yi‘s The Picture Bride, expected from Forge in October, described as an “upmarket commercial novel about three Korean women in 1910 who are mail-order brides (“picture brides”) to Korean laborers in Hawaii.” The two titles that I can’t see advertised in an online store or on a publisher’s website yet are Im Seong-sun‘s K-thriller The Consultant, about “a young aspiring novelist who, unbeknownst to himself, becomes part of a hit squad” and JM Lee‘s Broken Summer. We don’t have any English blurb for the latter yet, but the blurb for the Korean version (published last year) run through a translation engine promises that the title “guarantees excellent psychological description, detailed narrative, dramatic tension, and Lee Jung-myung’s outstanding readability, [and] depicts how lies and misunderstandings intervene in human life, destroying happy and disconnected families and taking their lives through twisted fate”.

cover art for final five titles

Also expected this year are Yun Ko-eun‘s long-awaited collection of short stories Table for One (tr Lizzie Buehler pub Columbia University Press, expected in September) and JM Lee‘s Painter of the Wind (tr Hannah Pang, Stella Kim pub Harriet Press, expected in June). The final title that is on our radar for this year is Lee Jang-wook‘s Stranger than Paradise (no translator credited, pub Dalkey Archive expected December). It’s tantalisingly sitting on Amazon at the moment, but no further information is available and we’re half suspecting this one to slip off the list.

I haven’t yet come across any upcoming poetry titles for this year, but there will surely be some (Asia Publishers have a habit of releasing titles without much prior fanfare, for example). And let’s not forget other genres of translated reading material: graphic novels such as Yeon Sang-ho‘s and Choi Gyu-seok‘s The Hellbound (of Netflix fame), which started its hard copy serialisation last month; or the burgeoning genre of children’s books in translation.

Finally, I’m sure there will be some good literature in English titles coming up. Already this year we’ve had June Hur‘s The Red Palace and Juhea Kim‘s Beasts of a Little Land, both of which look worth investigating.

All the book genre listings in our book database are presented in order of publication and include future publications. Future publications are listed first, and our Literature in Translation list is here. We also have lists of upcoming publications (all genres) and recent publications that you might have missed (again, across all genres). Do let us know of any titles we’ve missed via our book submission form or our contact form. Happy reading.

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