- Espectadores (Spectators)
Tr. Laura Hernández and Lee Eun Kim 2017207pp.
Yoon Sunghee was born in 1973 in a province of South Korea and began her literary career in 1999, when she won a contest in the newspaper Dong-A Ilbo. Later other distinctions would follow, from the Hyundae Literary Award and the Lee Hyo-seok Literary Award to the Today’s Young Artists Award and the Hankook Ilbo Literary Award.
Her literary trajectory noted minor stories, populated by almost invisible, poor and down-trodden characters, whom her writing seems to rescue from a certain and inevitable forgetting. With warm-hearted humor, hints of costumbrismo and appealingly agile and fluid reading, Yoon has consolidated a rich, original, and unique literary universe.
Spectators is, in that sense, a confirmation. It is a collection of interwoven tales that reconstructs the life of a typical Korean family in detail. The apparently simple texts are at once a complex and potent exercise of memory, where the characters wage a silent battle against despair. The tales are like a trail of breadcrumbs upon which one fine day Yoon decided to return. As the author tells it, in order to write them she got up at three in the morning, “checked the moon’s position in the sky, had a hot tea, and turned on the old laptop.” From that climate began to emerge the characters she chose to carry these multiple stories on their shoulders.