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The Guestby Hwang Sok-yong
Synopses & Reviews
“Writing that refuses to ignore suffering, but at the same time refuses to let itself be destroyed by destruction—which is a great challenge to any author.”—Le Figaro Littéraire
“Hwang Sok-Yong is the most committed, politically active writer of all those who have translated from the Korean in recent years.”—Libération
During the Korean War, Hwanghae Province in North Korea was the setting of a 52-day massacre. The atrocities were attributed to the American military, but in truth, they resulted from a vicious battle between Christian and Communist Koreans. Forty years later, Ryu Yo-seop, a minister living in America, returns to his home village, where his older brother once played a notorious role in the bloodshed. Haunted by memories and visited by truth-telling apparitions, Yo-seop must face the survivors of the tragedy and lay his brother’s soul to rest. Faulkner-like in its intense interweaving narratives, The Guest is a daring and ambitious literary novel about the pain of division, the scars of the past, and the search for reconciliation.
Hwang Sok-Yong is arguably Korea’s most recognized and renowned author. Drawing artistic inspiration from his own experiences as a vagabond day laborer, student activist, Vietnam War veteran, advocate for coal miners and garment workers, and political dissident, he is embraced as a writer and champion of the people. In 1993 there was an international outcry when Hwang was sentenced to seven years in prison for an unauthorized trip to the North to promote exchange between artists in North and South Korea. In 1998, he was released on a special pardon by the new president. The recipient of Korea’s highest literary prizes and shortlisted for the Prix Femina Etranger, his novels and short stories are published in North and South Korea, Japan, China, France, Germany, and America.
During the Korean War, Hwanghae Province in North Korea was the setting of a gruesome fifty-two day massacre. In an act of collective amnesia the atrocities were attributed to American military, but in truth they resulted from malicious battling between Christian and Communist Koreans. Forty years later, Ryu Yosop, a minister living in America returns to his home village, where his older brother once played a notorious role in the bloodshed. Besieged by vivid memories and visited by the troubled spirits of the deceased, Yosop must face the survivors of the tragedy and lay his brother's soul to rest.
Expert, idiomatic translation renders visible a story that helps explain the present weirdness in North Korea . . . T]he story with its great insight into the region, is deeply rewarding.--Kirkus Reviews
Vivid snapshots from the Korean War and surreal encounters with ghosts intersect in the first major US release by award-winning Korean novelist Sok-yong . . . an ambitious exploration of a postwar survivor's chaotic psyche.--Publishers Weekly
A provocative novel . . . with a subtle power. Hwang] takes the reader to the edge of a gruesome scene, then steps back and focuses on the sort of mundane detail that sticks in one's mind more firmly than any blood-splattered image.--TIMEAsia Magazine
During the Korean War, Hwanghae Province in North Korea was the setting of a gruesome fifty-two-day massacre. In an act of collective amnesia, the atrocities were attributed to American military, but in truth they resulted from strife between Christian and Communist neighbors. Forty years later Ryu Yosop, a minister living in America, returns to his home village, where his older brother once played a notorious role in the bloodshed. Besieged by vivid memories and visited by the troubled spirits of the deceased, Yosop must face the survivors of the tragedy and lay his brother's soul to rest.
About the Author
Hwang Sok-Yong is one of Korea's most-recognized authors due to his popular novel, Dr. Han, and Jan Gilsan, an epic serialised in a daily newspaper, which sold an estimated million copies in Korea. In 1989 he received international attention for traveling to North Korea on behalf of artistic exchange, and his subsequent imprisonment. He was later pardoned. Chun Kyung-Ja is Professor of English at the Catholic University of Korea. She has published many translations, including the novel The Shadow of Arms by Hwang Sok-Yong (1994). In 1995 she won the Korean Cultural and Arts Foundation grand prize for Korean literature translation for her 1991 translation of Ch'ae Man Sik's Peace Under Heaven. Maya West received the Korean Literature Translation Institute's "Newcomer Award" in 2003. She and Chun Kyung-Ja are currently in the process of co-translating a book of poetry (sponsored by a grant from the Daesan Cultural Foundation) and she recently received a KLTI grant as the sole translator of a full-length novel. She is currently living in Seoul as a freelance translator.
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