The Korea Herald


‘Hysteria’ wins two American translation awards

By Lim Jang-won

Published : Oct. 18, 2020 - 13:49

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“Hysteria” by Kim Yi-deum (Action Books) “Hysteria” by Kim Yi-deum (Action Books)

An English translation of Kim Yi-deum’s book of poetry “Hysteria” (Action Books) became the first-ever book to win both the National Translation Award and the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize given by the American Literary Translators Association on Friday (local time).

“Hysteria” is Kim’s third book of poems to be translated into English with the support of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea. The title poem is about a women being groped on a subway train and imagining her revenge.
“I want to rip you apart with my teeth. I want to tear you to death on this speeding subway. ... I want to kill this motherf---er,” writes Kim in “Hysteria.”

The English edition -- translated by Jake Levine, Seo So-eun and Hedgie Choi -- was published last year.

“Unbelievable, I wrote a long comment with thank yous and congratulations but erased it. Poetry is kind of like erasing lol Infinite love to the (unique) fans both domestic and abroad that read my poetry book,” Kim wrote on Instagram after winning the award.

The annual National Translation Award, now in its 22nd year, is given to the best translated literary work that has contributed to English literature. “Hysteria” is the first Korean work to win the award.

The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize, which takes its name from the American poet and translator Lucien Stryk, is given to the best literary work translated from an Asian language to English. Previously, the only Korean literary works to win the prize were “All the Garbage of the World, Unite!” by Choi Don-mee in 2012 and “Autobiography of Death” by Kim Hye-soon in 2019.

The judges described “Hysteria” as “an interesting and surprising piece made of intentionally excessive and irrational poems.”

“It continues Korean women poetry lineage by resisting nationalism, lyricism and social norms,” said the judges.

By Lim Jang-won (