*FULL SET PRICE: £35*
(Individual: RRP £52.92)
(이야기) means 'story' in Korean - so you can see why we thought our latest set of short stories, from South Korea, should be given that name! And, as ever, we have worked with a supremely talented collection of translators - both established and up-and-coming - from around the globe to bring you an inspired selection for your literary enjoyment. Each of these stories tells multiple stories at the same time, many of them layered or wryly ironic, all of them hugely enjoyable and carefully presented in exquisitely designed chapbook form as a kind of literary tapas banquet for you to get your reading chops into. Here's the menu, for which we recommend a Cheongju Rice Wine pairing to sip along:
Knockoff Viagra and Jeje: a Short Joke on Piss that Doesn’t Pool by Sang Young Park; translated by Anton Hur
"I had been called to pick up Jeje from a karaoke bar in Jongno district..."
A deftly expressive short modern love story concerning the misadventures of Hyoung and Jeje as they navigate the Seoul underworld in search of something more from life with lots to say about our contemporary moment; how people use and are used by others, but find solace in each other despite.
Take My Voice by Serang Chung; translated by Anton Hur
"The bloodstains on the linoleum were impossible to remove completely."
A madcap, sci-fi, found-family caper set in a world where a small group of people, known as 'monsters', have developed odd special powers or traits necessitating their voluntary, or less than voluntary, incarceration while the state works out what to do with them. It builds to a wonderfully comic set-piece, told charmingly with tenderness and wry humour.
Towards 0% by Seo Ije; translated by Rachel Min Park
"Despite the hordes of people packing the theatre that day, I can't remember a single face."
An extended meditation on the world of Korean cinema, the blockbuster versus the independent artist, its trends and its characters and role in society, seen through the eyes of a film enthusiast narrator and their interactions with those around them, each on their own journey.
Kyoko & Kyoji by Han Junghyun; translated by Emily Yae Won
"My name is きょうこ, Kyoko, I am Korean ... I have something important to tell you."
A subtly disorienting story of reminiscences between a mother and daughter as they each in their own way struggle with the effects of the mother's encroaching dementia. As they each try to piece together the fragments of a traumatic history, through doing so they tell a wider story of Korea itself.
The Greatest Gamble On Earth by Kwak Jaesik; translated by Hyowon Yun
"If I had to choose the richest person whom I would call a friend, I would pick Han Seung-hui."
A reconnection with an old friend leads to an intriguing party invite with surprising results and, through this simple tale and the progress of a single relationship, but from separate and very different worlds, a deeper story is told of contemporary society and class.
Walk With A Goddess by Ji-min Lee; translated by Paige Aniyah Morris
"Are you referring to the 'strange and sorrowful coincidences'? That's what I call them. I don't know what you've heard, but they're no ordinary, everyday thing, just so we're clear."
A young woman rumoured to be possessed of a strange supernatural ability and a young man take a walk. As she tells him her story it emerges that he has a specific request of her concerning a problem of his own. A charming tale of unlikely friendship found.
Like A Barbie by Park Min-Jung; translated by Clare Richards
"Met her again today. I finally got my hands on her, but still can't believe what she put me through all that time. Attaching her face here. K-Bot.jpg"
A story of a young student's tribulations and those of the people around her which says a lot about the process of coming of age in contemporary Korean society more broadly.
For That Which Cannot Be Restored by Park Wanseo; translated by Soobin Kim
"I simply shrugged at her like a westerner, which did nothing to temper the bottled-up shame and simmering anger within me."
A cranky woman of letters ends up investigating after a story submitted for a writing competition at a government sponsored magazine is pulled from publication by its author, and in doing so finds a story of her own.
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