Translated by: Chun Kyung-ja, Maya West
Publisher: Seven Stories Press, 2005.
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Based on actual events, The Guest is a profound portrait of a divided people haunted by a painful past, and a generation’s search for reconciliation.
During the Korean War, Hwanghae Province in North Korea was the setting of a gruesome fifty-two day massacre. In an act of collective amnesia the atrocities were attributed to American military, but in truth they resulted from malicious battling between Christian and Communist Koreans. Forty years later, Ryu Yosop, a minister living in America returns to his home village, where his older brother once played a notorious role in the bloodshed. Besieged by vivid memories and visited by the troubled spirits of the deceased, Yosop must face the survivors of the tragedy and lay his brother’s soul to rest.
Faulkner-like in its intense interweaving narratives, The Guest is a daring and ambitious novel from a major figure in world literature.
A great introduction to Hwang Sok-yong's work. This was one of the first Korean novels I read in translation and it totally gripped me, though the structure of the novel - as a shamanistic ritual - took some getting used to. As a window into the civil conflict during the Korean War this can make for a gruelling read, but it is well worth it.
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