Saturday, September 22, 2012

Recent books on the Korean market


By Martin Harnicek; translated into Korean by Bora Chung; Happy Reading; 224 pp., 10,000 won

A local publisher Happy Reading has just released a Korean translation of a Czech political horror novel “Maso” (Flesh) by Martin Harnicek, who has been based in Germany since 1983.

The novel was written in the late 1970s during communist rule and — due to its highly controversial and political content — was then published only in exile, by the Czech publishing house “68 Publishers” based in Toronto.

Soon, it was also translated into German, French and Polish, but Czech readers could only enjoy it after the Velvet revolution, a non-violent revolution in Czechoslovakia that took place from Nov. 17 to Dec. 29, 1989.

Dominated by students who held popular demonstrations against the one-party government of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, it saw the collapse of the party’s control of the country, and the subsequent conversion from Czech socialism to a parliamentary republic.

— Do Je-hae

The Civil Servant’s Notebook

By Wang Xiaofang; translated into English by Eric Abrahamsen; Penguin; 300 pp., $25.99

A northeastern city in Dongzhou Province needs a new mayor, and dangerous factions begin to form around two contenders and longstanding rivals, Vice-Mayors Liu Yihe and Peng Guoliang.

Written by a former civil servant, this book is a blend of fiction and reality drawn from the author’s own experience of life in a local government office in Shenyang, Northeast China.

Wang crafts a unique and multifaceted tale of official corruption where civil servants prioritize personal gain over public welfare.
Born in 1963 in Shenyang, the author was private secretary to Shenyang Deputy Mayor Ma Xiangdong from 1997-1999. Ma was infamous for gambling and losing millions in public money in Macau’s casinos, and was later sentenced to death for his crimes.
Wang was found innocent of any involvement and left the service in 1999 to begin a career as political fiction writer.

He has published 13 novels of political fiction in China, and his works regularly top the bestseller charts. This is the first of his books to be published in English.

— Do Je-hae


Clare Solomon and Tania Palmieri, Translated from English into Korean by In Yun-hee; Jiwa Sarang In: 400pp., 19,000 won

It seems like a distant memory when the students in London protested against the raising of tuition fees. It began in 2010 with the invasion of the Conservative Party headquarters in Millbank.

Author Clare Solomon, President of the University of London Union, has edited with Tania Palmieri a collection of accounts by the university students who took part in the demonstrations. It includes some first hand, from the street, reports of European, North African and U.S. based student related protest activities in late 2010 and early 2011.

“Springtime” has a strong international focus and only a third of the book is dedicated to the U.K. experience. It also compares and contrasts the student rebellions that have taken place in California, France, Italy, Greece and North Africa.

The book seeks to report recent student-centred protest events and provides readers with a critical chronicle. The two authors help to make sense of some aspects of contemporary politics and the emotional response to government policies and actions.

— Rachel Lee

World’s Woman Presidents

Park Young man; Freewill Publishing: 272pp., 14,000 won

This book has come out in the midst of presidential election campaign in Korea. Whether this country will have its first female president in history is the public’s biggest interest of all at the moment.

“World’s Woman Presidents” comprises both personal and political stories about 17 female presidents around the world since the 1960s. The book gives a brief history and background information about each country and then goes on to delve into the female leader’s life story including background, hardships and challenges. It also includes how they changed public opinion and the country in detail.

Featured leaders are— Margaret Thatcher (Britain), Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Sri Lanka), Indira Gandhi (India), Golda Meir (Israel), Helen Clark (New Zealand), Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan) and others.

By looking at their individual experiences, this book shares the message of learning and the possible future direction of a country if a female candidate is elected.

1 comment:

  1. Great post.I would certainly prefer to read more foreign fiction which were translated from Korean translation to English, or in any languages.Because in that way I could have an idea what do people think,feel or their culture is.When we read books from a foreign country it seems like travelling in that country through the stories plot.We could recognize how they have been living afar from our own culture.