THE WINNERS OF THE SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARDS HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED

The winners of the 2017 Shirley Jackson Awards have been announced!

THEHOLE

The Shirley Jackson Awards are literary awards celebrating the legacy of author Shirley Jackson (1916–1965) and are handed out at Readercon. each year. The Shirley Jackson Awards are awarded in recognition of “outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic” during the previous year. The winners are appointed by a jury of editors, writers, critics, and academics.

The 2017 Shirley Jackson Award for best novel went to The Hole by Hye-young Pyun (Arcade Publishing) in translation by Sora Kim-Russell. Meanwhile, the award for best novella ended in a tie between Samantha Schweblin’s Fever Dream (Riverhead Books) in translation by Megan McDowell, and Lindsey Drager’s The Lost Daughter Collective (Dzanc Books).

 

4th Estate pre-empts 'darkly beautiful' Marilyn & Me

4th Estate has pre-empted a novel inspired by Marilyn Monroe and her Korean translator.

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Helen Garnons-Williams, publishing director at the HarperCollins imprint, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in Marilyn and Me by Korean novelist and screenwriter Ji-min Lee,in a pre-empt from Barbara Zitwer at Barbara Zitwer Agency. The translator is the Man Asian Literary Prize-winning translator Chi Young Kim. 4th Estate will publish Marilyn & Me in Spring 2019.

Set in 1954, in the aftermath of the Korean war, Marilyn and Me unfolds over the course of four days, when Marilyn Monroe took time out from her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio to tour Korea, performing for the US soldiers stationed there. Her translator is Alice, a typist on the US base - where she is the only Korean woman making a living off the American military without being a prostitute - although everyone assumes she is. As these two women form an unlikely friendship, the story of Alice’s traumatic experiences in the war emerges, and when she becomes embroiled in a sting operation involving the entrapment of a Communist spy she is forced to confront the past she has been trying so hard to forget.

Lee is a screenwriter in Korea and author of several novels while Chi Young has translated various books including Please Look After Mom (Knopf) for which she won the Man, Asian Literary Prize in 2012, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly (Penguin) and The Good Son (Penguin).

Garnons-Williams described Marilyn & Me as “a compelling and surprising story of damage and survival, grief and unexpected solace”.

“Alice, raw and wry and wearing her grief like armour, is a wonderful character, and her experiences offer a fascinating – and timely - insight into an extraordinary time and place. We are thrilled to be publishing this darkly beautiful novel.”

The news follows another 4th Estate acquisition of a Korean crime thriller in March, snapped up by commissioning editor Anna Kelly as part of a five-way auction. Korean authors are reportedly “reinventing the thriller” according to the Guardian, introducing an alternative to Scandi Noir.

The Man Asian Literary Prize was an annual literary award between 2007 and 2012, given to the best novel by an Asian writer.

via the bookseller.com

US EMBASSY SEOUL TWEETS JIMMY FALLON!

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I am the agent of the Korean thriller, THE GOOD SON by you Jeong Jeong.   First and foremost, I want to thank you and Jimmy for being a champion of the book.  I thought you might find this interesting that the US EMBASSY in Seoul has picked up and tweeted for people to VOTE for THE GOOD SON for Jimmy’s book club!  I never heard of an embassy getting behind a book and a TV show – not even Oprah!  Clearly, this has gone beyond just a book. This has become a political movement.  Thanks again for your support.

Warmest regards,
Barbara

Advanced Review of The Court Dancer

 

The Court Dancer
By Kyung-Sook Shin. Tr. by Anton Hur
Aug. 2018. 368p. Pegasus, $25.95 (9781681777870)

Man Asian Literary Prize–winning Shin (The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness, 2015) alchemizes a brief
mention in a French diplomat’s book about his turn-of-the-century Korean tenure into a gorgeous epic that seamlessly combines history and fiction to create a hybrid masterpiece. In 1888, France’s first official legate to Korea, Victor Collin de Plancy, arrives in Seoul and falls in love at first word, a single exchange of “Bonjour” with Yi Jin, a revered traditional dancer of the Joseon Dynasty (Korea’s final royal court). Blinded by obsession, Victor dares to ask the emperor for her unprecedented release to accompany him back to France. Orphaned but adoringly raised by a royal attendant’s sister, coddled since childhood by the
queen, taught French by a missionary-priest, Jin leaves Korea and settles in Paris. Her new life provides unimagined social, literary, even commercial opportunities, but the relentless exotification of her very person emphasizes her growing alienation. Her return home is bittersweet, as she’s treated like a foreigner, but events turn horrific when she’s caught in the violent Japanese takeover of the Joseon court. Originally published in Korea in 2007 to best-selling success and smoothly Anglophoned by Anton Hur in his translated-novel debut, the court dancer’s latest journey west should command substantial, eager audiences.
— Terry Hong

 

 

World Literature Today Reviews The Good Son!

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"You-Jeong Jeong’s The Good Son is a precise, meticulously plotted thriller that is occasionally too precise and meticulous for its own good.
The novel begins with its protagonist, Yu-jin, waking up in his room covered in blood. He suffers from seizures. He has vague memories of the night before. When he goes downstairs, he finds his mother dead, and soon he convinces himself that the two of them had fought earlier, her in a rage, him defending himself. Soon, his adopted brother shows up. Then his aunt. Then the police. Those encounters are each fraught with tension, and the tension comes from Jeong’s prose, which spares not a single word.

This is a book of questions. It’s a book of mystery, too, but a good portion of it consists of Yu-jin talking to himself, trying to figure out what’s going on. For example: “Was that it? Did she witness the young woman being killed? Where could that have been? The docks? The sea wall?” Or: “Auntie’s words didn’t leave my head even when I went to the shower, toothbrush in my mouth. Something special. How did she know that when even I hadn’t known it until just now? Did she medicate me to suppress my nature, which craved that special something?”

You can read the full review here.

The Good Son makes BookBub.com's Best Beach Books List!

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Who can you trust if you can’t trust yourself?

Early one morning, 26-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell, and a phone call from his brother asking if everything’s all right at home — he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can’t remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life?

Thus begins Yu-jin’s frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night, and to finally learn the truth about himself and his family. A shocking and addictive psychological thriller, The Good Son explores the mysteries of mind and memory, and the twisted relationship between a mother and son, with incredible urgency.

via BookBub.com

Interview with Özgür Mumcu in The Guardian

  Özgür Mumcu. Photograph: Hasan Deniz

 Özgür Mumcu. Photograph: Hasan Deniz

For Samuel Johnson, the goal of writing was “to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it”. Özgür Mumcu’s The Peace Machine does both: it is as much a rollicking Ottoman steampunk adventure – full of wit, tongue-twisters and roguish escapism – as it is a carnivalesque take on contemporary politics.

Read the interview over at TheGuardian.com

The Good Son makes PW Picks of the Week!

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“The smell of blood woke me.” So says Han Yu-jin, a would-be law student with a history of seizures who lives in Incheon, at the start of South Korean author Jeong’s superlative thriller, her first to be translated into English. After he regains consciousness, Yu-jin follows an increasingly ominous trail of bloody handprints and footprints to the kitchen, where he finds his mother’s body. Her throat has been slit and her hands posed, clasped, on her chest. All Yu-jin can recall about the previous night is that he went out for a run around midnight in the rain to relieve his restlessness and saw a girl get off a bus. Did he kill his mother? His desperate efforts to sort out exactly what happened are intensified when his stepbrother and his aunt call to ask after his mother. Readers who enjoy grappling with the issue of a narrator’s reliability will relish Yu-jin, who believes that “being true to life wasn’t the only way to tell a story.”

You can see the rest of the list at PublisherWeekly.com.

Congratulations Jeong you Jeong !

THE GOOD SON, English language publication May 3rd and the rave reviews are pouring in!

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Written by You-Jeong Jeong, translated by Chi-Young Kim — South Korean fiction is something of a sleeping giant, both within and outside the crime genre, but it’s a giant that is slowly awakening with a number of compelling reads coming out of the southern half of the Korean Peninsula in recent years. You-Jeong Jeong’s The Good Son is the latest addition to our growing bookshelf of Korean crime fiction, and it’s one that has been creating a lot of buzz ahead of its publication in English on 3 May.

Read more on CrimeFictionLover.com

 

Great Review in The Bookseller!

4th Estate swoops in on Korean thriller
The Plotters

Published March 20, 2018 by Heloise Wood

4th Estate has won a five-way auction for a literary crime thriller The Plotters by South Korean writer Un-su Kim.

Anna Kelly, commissioning editor at the HarperCollins imprint, acquired the UK and European rights to the title, which has attracted offers from all over the world and is currently “being fought over” by international film and TV companies.

Translated from Korean by Sora Kim-Russell, the novel was sold by Sarah Lutyens at Lutyens & Rubinstein, on behalf of Text Publishing in Australia. Text bought world English language rights from Barbara Zitwer acting on behalf of Joseph Lee at Korean Literary Management.

North American rights were sold to Robert Bloom at Doubleday and Anne Collins at Penguin Random House Canada reportedly for a six-figure sum following a “wildly enthusiastic auction” according to the Guardian. Publishers in Czech Republic and Turkey have placed offers have also reportedly placed offers.

The Plotters takes the reader into a Seoul underworld of carefully orchestrated contract killings, in which the ‘plotters’ are the planners, shadowy figures pulling the strings and meticulously organising hits carried out by everyday career assassins. The novel hones in on one hitman who seems to have become a target himself.

“With a glorious cast of characters and a deliciously wry sense of humour, this is unlike any thriller I’ve ever read before,” Kelly said. “It’s as tense as you’d expect but what makes it really stand out is the pathos and poignancy with which Un-su Kim portrays his flawed characters and the futile cycles of violence they are all caught up in.”

She added: "I think readers will love its energy and originality”.

Zitwer told the Guardian earlier this month that Kim’s book was part of a growing appetite for Korean crime writing. “The world is finally embracing them. Korean thriller writers are invigorating the genre,” she said. “They are pumping new life into it. Readers are tiring of Scandinavian thrillers – they crave something new.”

Un-su Kim is the author of several highly praised novels and has won the Munhakdongne Novel Prize, Korea’s most prestigious literary prize. The Plotters is his first novel to be translated into English.

UK publication of The Plotters is slated for spring 2019.

First Review from the Unites States of The Good Son!

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“Bestselling Korean author Jeong slowly winds readers up with taut, high-tension wire, slowly letting it play out as the police inevitably come calling and Yu-jin begins to uncover shocking secrets about himself, his mother, and his past. A creepy, insidious, blood-drenched tale in which nothing is quite what it seems.” - Kirkus


A young man desperately tries to fill in gaps in his memory when he realizes he may have brutally murdered his own mother. Twenty-five-year-old Yu-jin lives in a sparkling modern apartment with his mother, has an adopted brother with whom he's close, and he's waiting to hear if he's been accepted into law school. One morning, he wakes covered in blood, "clots of the stuff" hanging off his clothes. He follows the trail of gore to find his mother lying at the bottom of the stairs with her throat cut. He explores the house, hoping for more clues as to what happened, and is surprised to find his late father's straight razor covered in blood in his room. Could he have killed his own mother? It sure seems that way, even if he can't remember doing it, and the fact that he hasn't been taking his anti-seizure medication doesn't help. Yu-jin narrates, telling a compelling, disturbing tale as he tries to piece together the events that might have led to his mother's death. Yu-jin's mom may not have had his best interests at heart. She made his stop swimming competitively—the only thing he really loved—because she claimed to fear he'd have a seizure in the water, and she nags him incessantly, always insisting she know his whereabouts. After his brother and father died 16 years ago, she adopted Hae-jin and has favored him over Yu-jin since. Yu-jin even confesses to following young women around at night, noting that frightening them is an addiction that he must feed. When a woman's body washes up nearby, one can't help but suspect Yu-jin. He doesn't help his case by admitting that he lies often. Pressure steadily mounts as Yu-jin's world, and mind, unravels. Bestselling Korean author Jeong slowly winds readers up with taut, high-tension wire, slowly letting it play out as the police inevitably come calling and Yu-jin begins to uncover shocking secrets about himself, his mother, and his past. A creepy, insidious, blood-drenched tale in which nothing is quite what it seems.

Time for K-Thrillers? by Kim Ji-myung

When Barbara Zitwer asked me the statistics on Korean thrillers and their translated English versions last week, I could not find answers through searching. Why? Because Korea's literary classification system does not have "thriller" as an independent category. 

Barbara heads a New York-based agency for literature and films. She has helped create many of the recent success stories for translated Korean novels in the global market.

The astonishing news that "The Plotters" by novelist Kim Un-su was recently sold to Doubleday for a six-figure sum may signal the new discovery of Korean thrillers abroad. "The Plotters" set a new record at an enthusiastic global auction in the U.S.

A European publisher at the auction called Kim "the Korean Henning Mankell," after the legendary Swedish crime writer. Mankell (1948-2015) was best known for his Kurt Wallander mysteries, which are global bestsellers.

You can read more here

The new Scandi noir? The Korean writers reinventing the thriller

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Last December, Korean novelist Un-su Kim set out on an eight-month deep-sea fishing trip as part of research for his next book. Unreachable by phone or email until next August, when his boat docks in Fiji, he has no idea that his thriller The Plotters has been the subject of a wildly enthusiastic auction in the US, where it recently sold to Doubleday for a six-figure sum. German publisher Europa Verlag has called Kim “the Korean Henning Mankell”, while publishers in the UK, Czech Republic and Turkey have placed offers, and international film companies are also battling for rights.

His agent, Barbara Zitwer, who plans to meet him in Fiji to reveal the news, believes Kim’s novel, about an organisation that masterminds assassinations, has caught a wave of interest in Korean thrillers – a previously unknown quantity. “The world is finally embracing them. Korean thriller writers are invigorating the genre,” she said. “They are pumping new life into it. Readers are tiring of Scandinavian thrillers – they crave something new.”

 

Korean writing can seem new to English readers due to the unique cadence and economy of the language; translator Deborah Smith described the process of changing Korean to English as “moving from a language more accommodating of ambiguity, repetition and plain prose to one that favours precision, concision and lyricism”. There is no grand tradition of mystery writing in Korea. Writers there are creating something entirely new: sparsely worded, stylistically sophisticated page-turners that incorporate ideas important to Korean society, such as family, loyalty, nature and hierarchy.

Other genre books by Korean authors include You-jeong Jeong’s third novel, The Good Son, due out in the UK this May, followed by JM Lee’s latest, The Gospel of the Murderer, about a series of killings in Jerusalem just before the crucifixion of Jesus.

Interest in the country’s literature has boomed over the last decade, according to research by the Man Booker International prize, gathered after Korean author Han Kang won for her novel The VegetarianSales of Korean books have increasedfrom only 88 copies sold in the UK in 2001 to 10,191 in 2015, while the number of titles translated into English has doubled over the last five years, from 12 in 2013 to 24 in 2017.

Read more on The Guardian

Reading North Korean Poems During the South Korean Olympics

 Photograph by Hiroji Kuboto

Photograph by Hiroji Kuboto

Pyeongchang, South Korea, where the Winter Olympics are currently under way, is extremely cold. Subzero temperatures inspired organizers to plan a relatively swift opening ceremony, forced biathletes to reconsider their choice of gloves, and sent television commentators in frantic search of cosmetics that wouldn’t freeze their faces off. Watching the Games, I have been thinking about the temperature fifty miles north, on the other side of the D.M.Z., where basic amenities—never mind battery-powered jackets, space heaters, free coffee, and weatherproof foundation—are harder to come by. Power outages are common in North Korea: in recent years, according to some reports, the country’s net electricity usage fell to nineteen-seventies levels, even as its population grew by nearly ten million. Then there is the untold number of prisoners in labor camps; presumably, their defenses against the weather are grossly limited.

 

You can read more in The New Yorker.