How the Lonely Coexist: Sunday Philosophy by Jo Kyung Ran

  • onOctober 27, 2014
  • Vol.20 Summer 2013
  • byBaek Jiyeon
Sunday Philosophy

Sunday Philosophy, Jo Kyung Ran’s sixth collection of short stories, delves into the meaning of an individual’s existence and the problems of communication. Beginning with her first novel, French Optical, Jo has experimented with diverse approaches to unraveling the nature of alienation in modern society. Her novels show a unique narrative technique of transferring a subtle description of objects to the internal psychology of the characters.

What stands out in this collection is the use of family and home as motifs to show the problems of communication and relationships among people. In the autobiographical work “The Phantom of Bongcheondong,” the author tells the story of a protagonist that has become independent from her family through having a room of her own. It is a depiction of how the character has outgrown her preoccupied adolescent stage of daydreaming and has learned to situate herself among diverse people for a more mature approach to life.

In her works, the characters that reassure themselves about the meaning of life in the most despairing situations, manifest their partial recovery as a reclamation of the bodily senses. In the “Life of Tutelage,” the protagonist, placed in an alien setting, takes up a track and field event, the shot put, as a way of trying to regain his sense of life. In the simple but beautiful gesture of picking up the heavy metal ball and hurling it, one can experience the dynamic energy of life in motion.

“Sowing” is the most noteworthy story in this collection. It is a remarkable work in which the author delineates the joy of a relationship and communication that takes place in everyday life. With the utmost sincerity, the author conveys ways in which individuals can coexist that ring true. 

Author's Profile

Jo Kyung Ran made her literary debut in 1996 when her short story “The French Optical” won the Dong-a Ilbo New Writer’s Contest. She is the author of the short story collections Looking for the Elephant (2002) and The Story of a Ladle (2004)I Bought a Balloon (2008), Philosophy of Sunday (2013), and the novels Time for Baking Bread (2001), Tongue (2007), and Blowfish (2010). She is also the recipient of the Hyundae Munhak Award and the Dongin Prize, among others.