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English translations of Korean literature published in the U.S.

KLTI Korea-Dalkey Archive Press joint project includes work from contemporary, colonial and post-colonial periods

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Published : 2013-10-17 19:13
Updated : 2013-10-17 19:14

The first 10 volumes of Dalkey Archive Press and the Literature Translation Institute of Korea’s Korean literature series will be hitting U.S. bookstores on Nov. 16, the Korea-based translation institute announced Tuesday. 

The newly published book series titled “Library of Korean Literature,” featuring works of Korean literature translated into English. (LTI Korea)
The series, titled “Library of Korean Literature,” consists of 25 works by Korea’s contemporary authors and those who lived through Korea’s colonial and postcolonial periods. The remaining 15 volumes in the series will be released next year.

The 10 volumes to be published next month include Yi Kwang-su’s 1932 fiction “The Soil,” which tells the story of a lawyer and an idealist who dedicates his life to helping the residents of a rural community during Korea’s Japanese colonial period.

Also included is Park Wan-suh’s collection of short stories “Lonesome You.” Its title story, “Lonesome You,” is about an aging woman who has been separated from her husband for a number of years.

Park debuted as a novelist in 1970 with “Namok (Bare Tree)” at age 40. She wrote extensively about the lives of ordinary families in the aftermath of the Korean War (1950-1953), as well as the lives of women entangled in social changes and rapid industrialization from the ’60s to the ’90s.

One of the volumes of the series is author Jung Mi-kyung’s “My Son’s Girlfriend,” a tale of a modern, affluent mother whose son dates a girl from a poor family. The novel is said to be an insightful observation of the class divisions in a modern, capitalist Korea.

Author Jang Eun-jin’s “No One Writes Back,” on the other hand, is a tale of a young man who travels around aimlessly for about three years with his blind dog. Jang, born in 1976, is one of the youngest writers whose work is included in the series.

Other inclusions in the 10 volumes are: Kim Won-il’s “The House with a Sunken Courtyard”; Hyun Ki-young’s “One Spoon on this Earth,”; Kim Joo-young’s “Stingray”; Jung Young-moon’s “A Most Ambiguous Sunday and Other Stories”; Jang Jung-il’s “When Adam Opens His Eyes”; and Lee Ki-ho’s “At Least We Can Apologize.”

The 15 volumes to be published next year include works of Yi Sang (1910-1937), who is considered one of Korea’s most innovative modern writers, according to LTI Korea.

The U.S. publisher and LTI Korea agreed in 2011 to publish a series of English-language translations of Korean literary works in the U.S., the first time such a project is taking place outside of Korea.

“This is the first time in American and British publishing that so many titles from a particular country have been published at once,” said publisher John O’Brien, the founder of Dalkey Archive Press, in 2011.

The living authors of the series are scheduled to tour the U.S. and other countries once all 25 volumes hit bookshelves in the U.S., according to LTI Korea.

LTI Korea introduced the 10 volumes at Frankfurt Book Fair which took place from Oct. 9 to 10 in Germany. The series will also be featured at the London Book Fair in April of next year. A total of 10 Korean authors will attend a number of promotional events at the festival, according to LTI Korea.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)

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