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Evening Proposal by Pyun Hye Young
Reading Pyun Hye-Young’s work has always challenged readers, beginning with her first short story collection, AOI Garden . The reader is shocked awake by the corpses, muck, and stinking reservoirs with which the stories are filled. These things evoke a horror of the time when nature violates its designated boundary and intrudes on civilization. With the publication of her second story collection, Heading for a Breeding Farm , and her first full-length novel, Ashes and Red , Pyun demonstrates a change in literary direction. What comes of this change is the new story collection, Evening Courtship . The abject images...
Sunday Sukiyaki Restaurant by Bae Suah
Just when it seemed as though 20th century literature had exhausted the possibilities of choral narrative, along comes Bae Suah. In El Restaurante de Sukiyaki (The Sukiyaki Restaurant), the author, born in 1965, has invented a narrative machine that interweaves parallel stories in which the characters, their living conditions and economic difficulties in a hyper-competitive society, are relayed in a firm, objective, straightforward voice that sustains the novel. All the stories, under the gaze of the same narrator, focus on the clash between the institution of the family—parents and children or husbands and wives—and the materialism of society. Often these...
"No One Writes Back" by Jang Eun-jin
No One Writes Back is a beautiful gem that works its slow magic on you over the course of 152 numbered paragraphs of which the shortest is only three words, at least in the English translation. The blurb on the back of the book rather undersells it, pitching Jang’s writing as “…this sly update of the picaresque novel.” I had to look up what a picaresque novel was, and still have no idea why it might need a sly update. This novel can in fact easily stand on its own without being put in a particular literary context. And unusually...

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