"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
Posts tagged "South Korea"
A dream of good fortune

A dream of good fortune

“When he’d heard the name ‘Flower Island’, he thought they were going to some paradise overlooking the ocean” – with not much more than these words, a thirteen-year old and his mother must choose between a life of increasing impoverishment and a promised alternative of redeeming ‘enoughness’. The choice seems obvious, and in Familiar Things...
Filthy treasures at Flower Island

Filthy treasures at Flower Island

Bugeye heard indistinct chatter around him in his sleep, but decided to stay curled up and ignore it. “Wake up, honey,” his mother said, pulling the blanket off him. “It’s time to go to work.” She shook Bugeye, who managed to sit up but still had his eyes closed, and then stood him up by...
Body, soul and shadow

Body, soul and shadow

Our bodies are piled on top of each other in the shape of a cross. The body of a man I don’t know has been thrown across my stomach at a ninety-degree angle, face up, and on top of him a boy, older than me, tall enough that the crook of his knees press down...
The first apparition

The first apparition

I was attending a local kindergarten at the time, so I must have been about five years old. The azaleas had bloomed a bright red at the top of the hill, and my sisters were out filling their baskets with freshly-picked shepherd’s purse, which means it had to be early spring. I was sitting on...
A narrow escape

A narrow escape

The light is incredibly clear today. For the past few days the sky was almost blotted out with snow, but today the sun’s rays penetrate deep down into the sea. The sea’s stormy indigo is ribboning out across its surface, like ink dissolving in water. After that it grows docile, a wild animal newly tamed,...
Han Kang: To be human

Han Kang: To be human

Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, her first novel to be published in English, is a haunting, startling and poetically rendered story about shame, alienation, rage, metamorphosis and desire in present-day South Korea. I meet her, with translator Deborah Smith and interpreter Kyeong-Soo Kim, to discuss its themes of identity and humanhood. MR: The Vegetarian was published...
Gong Ji-young: Dictators' daughters

Gong Ji-young: Dictators’ daughters

Gong Ji-young is at the forefront of the new wave of women writers who rose to the top of the literary tree in Korea in the 1980s and ’90s. We meet a few months after the UK publication of Our Happy Time, her invigorating tale of victimhood, love and redemption, on the eve of her...
Not old enough to die

Not old enough to die

I’ll start with the early winter of 1996. I was lying in a hospital bed. I had been found after trying to kill myself by swallowing a lethal dose of sleeping pills with whiskey – an attempted suicide patient, they called me. When I opened my eyes, rain was falling outside the window. A few...
Translating between the lines

Translating between the lines

“Since we’re already here, I want to have a real conversation.” – Yujeong When I was first starting out as a translator and wondering how on earth anyone could have enough endurance to translate an entire novel, a much more experienced translator explained to me that it wasn’t as hard as it seemed. She told...