Included in this collection:
Blood Sisters tells the story of Jeong Yeoul, a young Korean college student in the 1980’s, when the memory of President Chun Doohwan’s violent suppression of student demonstrations against martial law was still fresh. Yideum captures with raw honesty the sense of dread felt by many Korean women during this time as Jeong struggles in a swirl of misguided desires and hopelessness against a society distorted by competing ideologies, sexual violence, and cultural conservatism. Facing this helplessness, her impulse is to escape into the world of art. Blood Sisters is a vivid, powerful portrayal of a woman’s efforts to live an authentic life in the face of injustice.
A meeting between a group of emigrants and a mysterious, wandering actress in an empty train station sets the stage for Recitation, a fragmentary yet lyrical meditation on language, travel, and memory by South Korea’s most prominent contemporary female author. As the actress recounts the fascinating story of her stateless existence, an unreliable narrator and the interruptions of her audience challenge traditional notions of storytelling and identity.
In his inimitable, recursive, meditative style that reads like a comedic zen koan but contains universes, Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River recounts Korean cult writer’s Jung Young Moon’s time spent at an artist’s and writers residency in small-town Texas. In an attempt to understand what a “true Texan should know,” the author reflects on his outsider experiences in this most unique of places; all the while the author is asking what a novel is and must be, while accompanied by a fictional cast of seven samurai, silent companions in a pantomime of existential theater. Jung blends fact with imagination, humor with reflection, and meaning with meaninglessness, as his meanderings become an absorbing, engaging, quintessential novel of ideas.
The funeral of a goldfish named Kierkegaard, the sleepless narrator thwarting a would-be thief outside his moonlit window, a night spent with rats in a Paris hotel—Jung Young Moon, often described as Korea’s answer to Kafka and Beckett, lets his mind wander in this masterpiece of automatic writing, delving into the subconscious and the imagination to explore the very nature of reality.