Korean American Books

Summaries and reviews of fiction and nonfiction books by Korean American authors,
books about Korean Americans and Korea, and Korean literature in English translation,
including some academic works and a sampling on the Korean War

Monday, November 10, 2008

Postwar Korean Short Stories: An Anthology, edited and translated by Chong-un Kim

This collection of 17 short stories by Korean writers covers the nihilism, inhumanity and hopelessness that marked the decade during and after the divisive Korean War. It is a remarkable collection (in translation) that clearly shows the darkness covering the soul of the people and the alienating effects of the war on culture, society, identity and family. Some stories are stronger than others; one is by the famed author Hahn Musuk [sic]; and most end without a definitive conclusion. The stories are less plot-driven than are snapshots of a moment in hardship, yearning, dismay, failure in relationships, death and sacrifice. Beneath it all lies the Korean concept of HAN, the sorrow of the soul that permeates Korean culture. Speaking with the voice of the times, this book is a rare window into the literary output of a difficult and complex time in Korea.

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