A wonderful article by Ed Park, Executive Editor at Penguin Press, is featured in the October 19 edition of The New Yorker.
Titled “Sorry Not Sorry: Reading Dalkey Archive Press’s Library of Korean Literature,” Park’s piece looks at South Korea’s ever-evolving society from a literary perspective. Park’s parents are Korean immigrants and he brings fresh insights into how “the best South Korean fiction coats the country’s existential tumult in dark humor.” He focuses on several titles in the Library of Korean Literature series published in the U.S. by Dalkey Archive Press, particularly At Least We Can Apologize, a 2009 novel by the South Korean writer Lee Ki-ho, which Park notes is “divided into three sections, whose titles—‘Finding Wrong,’ ‘Creating Wrong,’ and ‘Cultivating Wrong’—describe a surefire, if unmistakably cynical, business strategy. What started, at the institution, as a simple means of survival becomes, in the outside world, an industry with the promise of limitless growth.”
According to Park, “The most appealing novels in the Library of Korean Literature capture the existential turbulence of han
while keeping a sense of humor about it.” Park also writes, “For American readers, literary evocations of Korea have come, for the most part, in the form of dystopian novels written by people without any direct connection to the country. Adam Johnson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Orphan Master's Son
, is set in the harsh confines of North Korea; at the other extreme, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas
, features a futuristic South Korea-inspired ‘corpocracy,’ a hotbed of clones, plastic surgery (‘facescaping’), and insurrection … With few exceptions, novels by actual Koreans have not registered here … Happily, Dalkey Archive’s series, launched in 2013, in collaboration with the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, provides a panoramic view of Korean fiction, in all its strangeness and variety, from the nineteen-thirties to the present.”
To read the full text of Ed Park’s New Yorker
article, click here