A look back at the 2018 literary year

A look back at the books and literary events of the year – and a summary of my reading diary. Literature in translation In translated fiction, my reading this year has not managed anywhere near to keep pace with the amount of translations being published. I know I said the same in respect of 2017 […]

Book review: Shin Kyung-sook – The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness

Shin Kyung-sook: The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness Translated by Jung Ha-yun Pegasus Book, New York, 2015, 369pp Originally published as 외딴방, Munhakdongne, 1995 When reading Ahn Jung-hyo’s White Badge, I found myself wondering why, despite what I thought was my general antipathy to novels with listless central characters who can’t seem to find their way […]

On reading Han Kang’s White Book by the pool

In general, I tend not to read much literary fiction. If I’m reading stuff which is unrelated to Korea, it’s likely to be either non-fiction or easy reading – a detective story or something reasonably lightweight. When it comes to Korea-related reading, until relatively recently the balance has again been in favour of non-fiction. But […]

Korean Women on screen, between the covers

As many readers might know, I recently gave a talk at the British Korean Women’s Society on a pretty risky topic: I was asked to give a Western male’s perspective on Korean women.  I decided to play it relatively safe, and discuss the topic through the lens of Korean novels, films and artworks that are accessible […]

Book review: Shin Kyung-sook — I’ll be right there

Shin Kyung-sook: I’ll Be Right There Translated by Sora Kim-Russell Other Press, New York, 2014, 325pp Originally published as 어디선가 나를 찾는 전화벨이 울리고, Somewhere A Phone Is Ringing For Me, 2010 There are people who liked Shin Kyung-sook’s most famous work – Please Look After Mother – and those that didn’t. In the latter […]

Shin Kyung-sook seeks to withdraw short story

Wow – this all happened very quickly. On 17 June author Lee Eung-jun wrote an article in Huffington Post Korea (in Korean) accusing Shin Kyung-sook of plagiarism: Shin is “an author whose works are often accused of plagiarism” and that he decided to risk his career by publishing the article as he wanted the allegations […]

London Book Fair, day 2

Day 2 of the London Book Fair, in which: Han Kang said very nice things about her translator (Deborah Smith) and Shin Kyung-sook called hers her “twin soul”; We discovered that Kim Young-ha was about to start writing a historical novel set in the Joseon dynasty, only to find out that Kim Insuk had already […]

LBF event, 10 Apr 6:45pm: Separations, at Asia House

The fourth of six evening events during London Book Fair week, which unfortunately overlaps with a session with Kim Hyesoon at the Festival Hall. Separations 10 April, 18.45-20.00 Authors from Korea, Pakistan and Singapore discuss their work and the question: How does the partition of a country and divisions of families affect its society and […]

KCC launches its Korean Literature Night series

You’ve all read Please Look After Mother by now. What did you think of what is probably the most successful piece of translated Korean fiction ever? If you haven’t read it already, the KCC is granting an amnesty, giving you the opportunity to read it and then discuss it with like-minded people afterwards. It’s part […]