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[Herald Interview] Korea's favorite French writer Bernard Werber says he has achieved his goal as a writerBy Hwang Dong-hee
Published : June 29, 2023 - 18:16
French science fiction writer Bernard Werber has returned to Korea for the ninth time, marking the 30th anniversary of the first publication of the Korean translation of his debut novel, “Empire of the Ants.”
“Visiting Korea has always been a pleasure,” said Werber during a press conference held in Seoul on Wednesday. “I think Korean readers are very future-oriented, and the success of my books is thanks to them.”
The French writer expressed his gratitude to Korean readers who have shown unwavering love for his works. A total of 30 of his books have been published in Korea. Of the 35 million copies of his books have been sold around the world, 10 million were sold in Korea. In particular, the “Empire of the Ants” sold 800,000 copies -- a remarkable feat for a foreign novel in Korea.
The Korean translation of his novel, "The Prophecy of the Bees," hit the shelves last week, published by The Open Books. The story revolves around Renee who catches a glimpse of a terrible future that unfolds after bees disappear, leading to World War III. She travels through time to prevent this catastrophe.
“I have always been fascinated by social animals that form organized societies,” said Weber, also referring to his bestseller “Empire of the Ants.”
“Another interesting thing is that we enjoy the nectar they produce. In that sense, bees stimulate not only our intellectual attention but also our gustatory sense.”
The author said he wrote the book to remind people that honeybees are extremely important to human survival.
“The fruits and vegetables we consume are made possible through the activities of honeybees. Even if we express our gratitude to honeybees, it may not be enough. But honeybees are disappearing due to insecticides and environmental pollution.”
Werber also mentioned that his novel, “The Diagonal of the Queens” ("La Diagonale des Reines") (2022) was inspired by the stories of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, Korea’s revered national hero who led epic naval battles against the Japanese invaders during the Joseon era. The book is set to be published in Korean next year.
"Korea's great strength lies in its ability to maintain a unique sense of calmness despite challenging geopolitical conditions, surrounded by powerful nations such as Russia, China and Japan,” said Werber.
“I have had the opportunity to learn of Korea's heroic history and discovering Korean culture, history and energy has been incredibly thrilling.”
This weekend, Werber will visit Museum SAN in Gangwon Province and Jeju Island with his readers. He is also scheduled to have a book signing event in Busan on Sunday and another one in Seoul on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he will have a book talk program in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province.
Reflecting on his journey as a writer, Werber said, “I remember when I had my first signing event, I just waited and no one came. As a writer, there is no greater loneliness than having no readers.”
“But now, I feel like I have already achieved my dream, for I am fortunate to have many readers.”
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