The Asia Literary Review, an Australia-based magazine featuring contemporary literature across Asia and essays about it, is devoting its spring issue to today’s Korean literature in honor of Han Kang’s winning the Man Booker Prize this year. Would-be readers must register for free to read ALR’s coverage, but for contemporary K-lit fans this is well worthwhile.
Articles include a piece by Han Kang herself on her picks for must-read Korean authors, and her translator Deborah Smith has contributed an essay on contemporary Korean literature, too. Then there is a third article by ALR’s staff about a conference entitled “K-Lit in the Age of Korean Cool” that puts today’s Korean literature in the context of the Hallyu.
Since ALR is a major magazine for today’s literature on this continent, its devoting a whole issue to this topic might be a sign that Korean lit has really arrived–but so is winning the Man Booker Prize to begin with. After a long night of non-recognition, Korean writers can place themselves along with some of Asia’s best.
This is not a story about Li Xiaolong, also known as Bruce Lee. And I’m not saying that my uncle is Bruce Lee. My uncle was simply one of the countless ordinary people who admired Bruce Lee. At that time, we were all fans of Li Xiaolong. Was there ever a boy who hadn’t hit himself on the back of the head while having a go with those nunchucks? We wanted to have a fist as fast and powerful as his, and back muscles as broad as a straw floor-mat…
My mother and father were seventeen when they had me.
I turned seventeen this year.
I have no idea if I will live to see eighteen or nineteen.
That isn’t something I can decide.
All I can be sure of is: there isn’t a lot of time.
Children grow bigger and bigger.
And I grow older and older…