The Korea Herald


Seoul book club to host three rising Korean authors

By Korea Herald

Published : Sept. 9, 2015 - 19:09

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The Seoul Book and Culture Club will be hosting a book reading and question-and-answer session with three rising stars of Asian literature.

Organized together with ASIA Publishers, the event will see Cheon Myeong-kwan reading from his story “Homecoming,” Hwang Jung-eun reading from “Kong’s Garden” and Yun I-hyeong reading from “Danny.” All three stories were included in ASIA Publishers’ K-Literature series.

The three authors will then discuss their works and answer questions. 

It is the third event the club has held with ASIA Publishers, and Barry Welsh, who runs the Seoul Book and Culture Club, says that the inclusion of genre fiction in the events was a big plus.

“It’s great because we don’t get a lot of science fiction in translation,” he said. “Historically I guess the gatekeepers of what gets marketed and translated have kept away from the genre stuff, so it was really cool to read science fiction that let me see the sort of things that were happening in Korea.”

Welsh pointed out that the publishers’ recent efforts were built on a solid output of Korean classics and that they were now putting out more unconventional work.

“I think it’s really interesting to see what’s happening. This is the cutting edge of Korean fiction ... science fiction and then in the previous selections they had a lot of weird postmodern things going on and it‘s really good.”

He is also glad to hold events that introduce authors that are relatively less well-known to foreign audiences.

“It’s really interesting to hear all these voices that are more influenced by international pop culture and things that are happening now rather than just separation and the Korean War,” he said. “It is something a bit quirkier.”

The club holds regular sessions with Korean authors whose work is available in English. Future book events will include sessions with Kang Cheol-hwan, author of “The Aquariums of Pyongyang,” on Oct. 31 and “The Vegetarian” author Han Kang on Nov. 7.

Members of the club were also invited to help judge the Ku Sang Young Writer Award from a shortlist of four authors from the K-Literature series. They include Cheon, the most well-established of Saturday’s guests, who has had recent local success with his novel “Gorae.” The other nominees are Kim Geum-hee, Baik Sou-linne and Lee Jang-wook.

The Ku Sang Literary Awards are bestowed in honor of 20th-century poet Ku Sang, with the main prize awarded for poetry. The results will be announced ahead of the awards ceremony in December.

The club also hosts screenings, with a showing of two documentaries on the Korean punk and indie scene -- “Our Nation” and “Us and Them” -- on Oct. 17. The producer of the films and some of the musicians that appear in them will be on hand to answer questions afterward.

Saturday’s joint event with ASIA Publishers will start at 4 p.m. at the Seoul Global Cultural Center in Myeong-dong. It will be hosted by Charles Montgomery, who runs the KTLIT blog on Korean literature and who was made an honorary citizen of Seoul for his efforts to promote translated Korean works.

By Paul Kerry (