Dreaming the Language of Literature and Womanhood
- onNovember 14, 2014
- Vol.12 Summer 2011
- byKim Min-jeong
The Arab Emirates, they said. If it wasn’t the UAE, I would not have said yes and agreed to go so readily. Didn’t they tell me I would be going to Abu Dhabi? And to Dubai? The country where I had long dreamed of visiting on my own but had all but given up, as I thought I would never be able to go by myself. Whistling in excitement, I went through a couple of summer outfits but ended up putting them back in the closet. What I am trying to say is that I could not fathom how different. I mean, before I could confirm the cultural differences, I realized that I was so ignorant of this country and its Arabic culture. I read a few books that seemed to specialize in the subject and called a few people whom I believed to be experts. I was told, Let’s talk after you get back, so I said fine. I boarded a flight on Etihad Airways, the second national airline of the UAE.
The first official function took place at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Because South Korea participated this year as the Market Focus country, we had a booth at the entrance of the fair. It was modest in size; not just our booth but those of all the other countries in attendance as well. I wonder if this was the reason the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair was not well known worldwide. The other authors Kim Joo-young and Yi Mun-yol, and KLTI folks including the president Kim Joo-youn, who had been on my flight, were slowly becoming my family, as we looked around the booths, chatted, and took pictures together. Our shared communal fate as this odd family unit proved itself to be useful with our flexible teamwork during the “conversations with authors” segment of the fair. For instance, if my poems brought to mind the image of a trouble-making daughter, the novels of the two senior authors on the panel could be likened to that of the father straightening out the situation.