Translated by: Kim Se-un
Publisher: Dalkey Archive, 2016.
Link to online store *
The Amusing Life is a collection of over forty stories, sketches, vignettes and fables that search out the comical, even the absurd, aspects of everyday life. Along the way, the conventions and mores of work, art, nation, love and family are examined and made newly strange. Two rival countries race to raise the tallest flag. A poet receives a grant letter that’s made to self-destruct. A world confederation of liars welcomes new members. Always instructive but never didactic, Song’s stories are characterized by a lightness of touch that allows laughter to accompany even the darkest truths in this collection.
Song Sokze is better known for his poetry but these fun and insubstantial pieces are a perfect antidote for those who find some Korean writers too full of angst and depression. I’m sure the author would not mind if you were to keep this volume in the smallest room the house to entertain you while your body performs its necessary daily functions (indeed, the 13-line item Surveillance is perfect for such a situation, describing the sort of graffiti you find in a public toilet). Alternatively, it’s an ideal book to keep you amused on the daily commute.
* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or Bookshop.org for the more recent uploads (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 Bookshop.org and 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.