Author: Cheon Un-yeong, Gong Sun-ok, Han Yujoo, Kim Aeran, Kim Chi-won, Kim Sagwa, Oh Jung-hee, Park Wan-suh, Seo Young-eun
Translated by: Bruce Fulton, Ju-chan Fulton
Publisher: Zephyr Press, 2016.
These nine stories span half a century of contemporary writing in Korea (1970s–2010s), bringing together some of the most famous twentieth-century women writers with a new generation of young, bold voices. Their work explores a world not often seen in the West, taking us into the homes, families, lives and psyches of Korean women, men, and children.
In the earliest of the stories, Pak Wan-so, considered the elder stateswoman of contemporary Korean fiction, opens the door into two “Identical Apartments” where sisters-in-law, bound as much by competition as love, struggle to live with their noisy, extended families. O Chong-hui, who has been compared to Joyce Carol Oates and Alice Munro, examines a day in the life of a woman after she is released from a mental institution, while younger writers, such as Kim Sagwa, Han Yujoo and Ch’on Un-yong explore violence, biracial childhood, and literary experimentation. These stories will sometimes disturb and sometimes delight, as they illuminate complex issues in Korean life and literature.
Internationally acclaimed translators Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton have won several awards and fellowships for the numerous works of Korean literature they have translated into English.
Featuring these authors and stories:
Pak Wan-so: “Identical Apartments”
Kim Chi-won: “Almaden”
So Yong-un: “Dear Distant Love”
O Chong-hui: “Wayfarer”
Kong Son-ok: “The Flowering of Our Lives”
Kim Ae-ran: “The Future of Silence”
Han Yujoo: “I Am the Scribe—Or Am I” aka “I ain’t necessarily so”
Kim Sagwa: “Today Is One of Those The-More-You-Move-the-Stranger-It-Gets Days, and It’s Simply Amazing”
Ch’on Un-yong: “Ali Skips Rope”
Note that The Future of Silence is effectively an updated version of “Wayfarer: New Fiction by Korean Women” tr Bruce & Ju-Chan Fulton, Women in Translation, 1994. In the process of preparing the revised edition, a few stories were added, and a few were lost. The stories that were dropped – and alternative places you can find them – are as follows:
Ch’oe Yun: The Last of Hanako => Land of Exile: Contemporary Korean Fiction
Gong Ji-young: Human Decency => Asia Publishers Bi-lingual Edition Modern Korean Literature Set 1
Kim Min-suk: Scarlet Fingernails => Land of Exile: Contemporary Korean Fiction
Excellent collection of short stories, with the title story by Kim Aeran being the stand-out.
LKL rating:Read our review of this book here. Read a review by Tony Malone here. Entry on Goodreads.com here.