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Korean writer, translator launch US book tour

As part of a move to help promote Korean literature abroad, the Literature Translation Institute of Korea is hosting book launch events in various US cities.

The books to be unveiled are Bae Su-ah’s “The Essayist’s Desk” and “Recitation,” which will be released by Open Letter Books in October and Deep Vellum Publishing in January next year, respectively. 

Korean novelist Bae Su-ah (Literature Translation Institute of Korea)
Korean novelist Bae Su-ah (Literature Translation Institute of Korea)

The marketing events will be held between Oct. 5 and Oct. 14 in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston and Dallas, among other cities. Co-winner of this year’s Man Booker International Prize, Deborah Smith, who translated the two books, will participate in an open talk session with Ed Park, executive editor of Penguin Press, in New York on Oct. 5. The event is being organized by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.

The English-language editions of Bae’s books were spawned by an LTI Korea program that invited representatives from the two American publishers to Seoul in late 2014 to meet the author. As an outcome of the meeting, the two companies inked deals with LTI Korea to launch English-language translations of Korean novels each year.

Bae, 51, is known for her unique style that focuses on human psychology, delving into issues such as domestic violence against women, individual isolation and longing for love. Her books “Nowhere to be Found” (2015), “Time in Gray” (2013) and “Highway with Green Apples” (2013) have been translated into English. 

British translator Deborah Smith (Literature Translation Institute of Korea)
British translator Deborah Smith (Literature Translation Institute of Korea)

Smith, the recipient of LTI Korea‘s translation project award in 2013, has worked with Bae as well as authors Han Kang, co-winner of the Man Booker International Prize, and Kim Sa-gwa. Smith has also established Tilted Axis, a publishing firm that specializes in Asian and African literature.

Starting with the marketing events in October, LTI is also preparing the translation and publication of up-and-coming author Han Yu-joo’s “The Impossible Fairy Tale,” which will come out early next year from Graywolf Press.

By Joel Lee  (