Ethan Nosowsky, Editorial Director at Graywolf Press, visited Korea in June for the Seoul International Book Fair. Though small in size, Graywolf is widely known for its list of award-winning writers and experimental yet trendsetting works. It is set to publish its first Korean book, The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo, in 2017. Nosowsky shares his thoughts about Han’s book, about literature in translation, and about books that interest him.
LTI Korea: What brought you to Seoul?
Ethan Nosowsky: Graywolf is an enthusiastic publisher of translated literature, which occupies a significant portion of our list. And although we have published poetry by two Chinese authors, Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale is the first work of fiction we’ve published from Asia. This is a shortcoming of ours, and we hope to remedy it. After we acquired Ms. Han’s novel, LTI Korea offered Graywolf a generous translation and publication subsidy for The Impossible Fairy Tale and extended an invitation to me to visit publishers and writers in Seoul. I thought it would be ideal to visit during the Book Festival, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.
LTI Korea: What made you decide to publish The Impossible Fairy Tale?
EN: Graywolf’s publisher, Fiona McCrae, first heard about the novel from Ms. Han’s agent, Kelly Falconer, at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India. As you might imagine, we have no editors on staff who read Korean, so when Kelly submitted a sample translation and a detailed synopsis, we commissioned two experts to report on the book for us. The reports were stellar and the sample translation was intriguing. The voice in the sample pages was extraordinary, and while the story was chilling and disturbing, we thought it was very powerful. I should say that we were initially a little concerned about the metafictional turn that the story takes in the second half. This has in some ways become a well-worn trope in Western literature, but we agreed that Ms. Han had done something very organic and original with it. In the end, we felt this debut novel presented us with an opportunity to collaborate with an author at the beginning of a promising career.