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The Specters of Algeria

Translated by:
Publisher: , 2023
Original title: 알제리의 유령들, 2017
Link to online store *

A group of dramatists that commit what was a subversive act during the South Korean military dictatorships of the twentieth century – distributing copies of Karl Marx’s only surviving play, The Specters of Algeria. The consequences of the brutal crackdown by the authorities would set the directions of the lives of two children of the group’s members, Yul and Jing. Despite the deep connection between them, Yul would open up an alteration shop in Seoul and Jing would move to Europe. But now, Cheolsu, a dissatisfied employee at a community theatre, is unearthing the truth about The Specters of Algeria and questioning whether the human situation is as absurd as the play asserts.

Beautifully translated by Yewon Jung, Hwang Yeo Jung’s prizewinning debut is an intricately patterned novel which plays with the idea that there can be a single, objective account of reality and celebrates friendship, human endurance, and love.

Hwang Yeo Jung was born in Seoul in 1974. Her debut novel, The Specters of Algeria, won the 2017 Munhak Dongne Novel Prize. Hwang’s next novel, Please Call My Name, was published in 2020.

Yewon Jung, a reader first and translator second, loves to fall in love with books and translate the books she loves. Her works include  No One Writes Back  (Dalkey Archive Press), One Hundred Shadows  (Tilted Axis Press), and Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River (Deep Vellum Publishing). She is the winner of the 2017 LTI Korea Translation Award and the 2011 Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award. She lives on a small island in Korea and enjoys taking long walks along the beach.

Source: publisher’s website

Read a review by Tony Malone here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or 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 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.