Translated by: Inrae You, Louis Vinciguerra
Publisher: Dalkey Archive, 2013.
Link to online store *
Hailed by critics, “Stingray” has been described by its author as “a critical biography of my loving mother.” With his father having abandoned his family for another woman, Se-young and his mother are forced to subsist on their own in the harsh environment of a small Korean farming village in the 1950s. Determined to wait for her husband’s return, Se-young’s mother hangs a dried stingray on the kitchen doorjamb; to her, it’s a reminder of the fact that she still has a husband, and that she must behave as a married woman would, despite all. Also, she claims, when the family is reunited, the fish will be their first, celebratory meal together. But when a beggar girl, Sam-rae, sneaks into their house during a blizzard, the first thing she does is eat the stingray, and what follows is a struggle, at once sentimental and ideological, for the soul of the household.
For a Western reader, this novel, while a pleasant read, is not going to break into the mainstream.
* 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.