Translated by: Janet Hong
Publisher: Open Letter, 2019.
Link to online store *
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. A woman meets her next-door neighbour and loans her a spatula, then starts suffering horrific gaps in her memory. A security guard falls in love with a magician/petty thief, and suffers a life-altering accident. A man, feeling jilted by an unrequited love, becomes obsessed with sorting through his neighbours’ garbage in the belief that it will teach him how to better relate to people. These are some of the captivating, strange stories in Ha’s collection – the latest in the trend of brilliant female Korean authors to appear in English.
The volume is a translation of a collection published in 1999 containing the following stories:
Flowers of Mold
The Woman Next Door
Your Rearview Mirror
Entertaining collection of stories mostly set in a hot, heavy, moist Seoul summer. Based on my previous experience with her story Waxen Wings in the anthology of that title I was expecting to find this collection a little odd and heavy going. Actually yes, the stories are odd, but in a good way: quirky, sometimes macabre. And they pass in a flash.
* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.