Review: Kim Yideum – Blood Sisters

Kim Yideum: Blood Sisters Translated by Jiyoon Lee Deep Vellum, 2019, 202pp Originally published as 블러드 시스터즈 by Munhakdongne, 2011 I seem to be on a roll with translated fiction this year. Two disappointments (Marilyn and Me and Kim Jiyoung), but now seven that are highly recommendable. I picked this novel off the reading pile […]

Book review: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

Cho Nam-joo: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 Translated by Jamie Chang Scribner, 2020, 163pp Originally published as 82년생 김지영, Minumsa, 2016. Kim Jiyoung, as the blurb on the back cover of this translated novel tells us, is every woman. Her given name is unremarkable, familiar, and of course her family name is the most common in […]

Book review: Jeon Sungtae – Wolves

Jeon Sungtae: Wolves Translated by Sora Kim-Russell White Pine Press, 2017, 196pp Originally published as 늑대, Changbi Publishers, 2009 Jeon Sungtae’s Wolves takes us to another world – the world of Mongolia in the early years of this century, a decade after the adoption of capitalism. The country is modernising rapidly, but out on the […]

Review: Bae Suah — Untold Night and Day

Bae Suah: Untold Night and Day Translated by Deborah Smith Jonathan Cape 2020, 152pp Originally published as 알려지지 않은 밤과 하루, Jaeumgwa Moeum, 2013 Let me say up-front that I have never regarded myself as a Bae Suah fan. My first encounter with her – Highway with Green Apples – registers in my memory as […]

Book review: Marilyn and Me

Ji-min Lee: Marilyn and Me Translated by Chi-young Kim HarperCollins / 4th Estate 2019, 176pp Originally published as 나와마릴린, 2009 “Where did all the beautiful and hopeful young women go?” That was the thought that occurred to author Ji-Min Lee, looking back at the grim post-war years, and looking at a couple of photographs from […]

Review: JM Lee – The Boy who Escaped Paradise

The Boy Who Escaped Paradise J.M. Lee, translated by Chi Young Kim Pegasus, 2016, 288pp Originally published as 천국의 소년, Seoul, 2013. A fifty-year-old North Korean is found shot to death in a flat in Queens, New York; beside him is a wounded man, the presumed killer. On the floor around the bodies are mysterious […]

Brief book review: The Plotters

Kim Un-su: The Plotters Translated by Sora Kim-Russell Fourth Estate, 2019, 304 pp Originally published as 설계자들, Seoul 2010 I always find when embarking on a new book it pays to have neutral expectations. That way you won’t be disappointed. But sometimes it’s hard to filter out your own personal prejudices and the word of […]

Book review: When Adam Opens His Eyes

Jang Jung-il: When Adam Opens His Eyes Translated by Hwang Sun-ae and Horace Jeffery Hodges Dalkey Archive 2013, 126 pp Originally published as 아담이 눈뜰 때, Kimyeongsa, Seoul, 1990 Deleuze, Lacan, Bataille… if you’re reading a text that references any of those thinkers, you’re probably reading a rather turgid book on postcolonial or film studies, […]

Brief book review: Suni Samchon

Hyun Ki-young: Suni Samchon Translated by Lee Jung-hi Asia Publishers Bilingual Edition, 2012, 186pp Jeju Island, in Korean literature of the late 70s and 80s, is not the honeymoon destination of more recent years. It was a place of poverty, of bitter memories – a place to escape from rather than a destination to visit […]

Brief review: Kim Sagwa – Mina

Kim Sagwa: Mina Translated by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton Two Lines Press, 2018, 237pp Originally published as 미나, Changbi Publishers, 2008. Hell Joseon has become an increasingly familiar context for contemporary Korean literature. But the novels and stories I can think of all focus on the struggles of the poor or those who are just […]

Brief review: Samuel Hawley — The Imjin War

Samuel Hawley: The Imjin War – Japan’s Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China 2nd Edition, Conquistador Press 2014 Originally published by Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch, Seoul, 2005 How is it that a 664 page book only merits a brief review? Well, because as an historical book a proper review should only […]

Book review: Kim Young-ha – Diary of a Murderer

Kim Young-ha: Diary of a Murderer and other stories Translated by Krys Lee Mariner Books, 2019, 200pp Originally published as 살인자의 기억법, Munhakdongne, 2013 Somewhat rashly, I approach Kim Young-ha’s novels with a keen sense of anticipation, particularly when translated by Krys Lee. Rashly, because with high expectations you usually set yourself up for a […]