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Imagine Cormac McCarthy writing about the boring lives of clerks and you’ll anticipate something of the dystopic flavour of this gripping but socially bleak short story from Hwang. In a Korean world in which education has historically meant everything, the narrator realizes both that this is not true (through her partner in an essentially loveless affair) and that the recognition of this fact does not surprise her at all. The narrator is drawn into a larger story when she refuses to sell cigarettes to Jinju, a young woman in the company of two men who subsequently goes missing.
HWANG JUNGEUN was born in 1976 and has published two collections of short stories and three novels to date. One Hundred Shadows (2010), her first novel, was both a critical and commercial success, winning both the Hankook Ilbo Literary Award and the Korean Booksellers’ Award.
JEON SEUNG-HEE is a literary scholar and critic as well as a leading contemporary translator of Korean literature. Her translations include the 2016 Man Booker Prize-winning novelist Han Kang’s Convalescence (2013) and Bang Hyeon-seok’s fiction Time to Eat Lobster (2016), which was selected for “75 Notable Translations of the Year” by World Literature Today. She has been honoured with a Fulbright Grant, a Korea Foundation Fellowship, and two Daesan Foundation Translation grants (2011 and 2016). Based in both Boston and Seoul, she is a lecturer at Boston College and a senior editor at Asia Publishers.
Kong's Garden by Hwang Jungeun