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


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.

Enjoy the best of Korean Literature!

We are so proud of our authors: Un su Kim, THE PLOTTERS, Kyung sook Shin, THE COURT DANCER, Hye young Pyun, CITY OF ASHES AND RED and Jeong you Jeong's THE GOOD SON. All publishing this year ! Enjoy the best of Korean Literature.

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From classic Joseon dynasty ghost stories, via historical fiction set in the reign of Queen Min, to the latest in translated literature, we take a look at some of the books to look forward to in 2018.

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We are proud to welcome Jamie Marina Lau!

Jamie Marina Lau

Modernity, art, family, gender, drugs, music, adolescence, business, religion, internet cafes, food, strangers, aesthetics, vacations, fashion, desires, dreams, expectations, brown couches.


An unpredictable and innovative debut novel from a provocative new voice in Australian fiction. Embracing the noir tradition and featuring a prose style quite unlike any before—with references that will go both over your head and under your feet—Pink Mountain on Locust Island will flip readers upside down and turn your understanding of the world around you around.

Pink Mountain on Locust Island is:

a)  a subterranean noir of the most electronic generation – the pink-white bursts of a teenaged nomad;

b)  a fizzing of the New Wave underground art province, with its melting pot of noise bands and Phife, amnesiac and digitalised bossa novas, and art installations about art installations;

c)  a 24-hour yank between pulverised English, elastic Cantonese and the newest, digitalised dialect of transcultural landscapes;

d)  a short novel narrated among the lumps of Monk’s daydreams, her violent, claustrophobic encounters, and her staccato movements through a hyperreal pop culture world that could only belong to our 21st century;

e)  all of the above.

Welcome MeKong Review!


HONG KONG — At Monument Books, a bookstore in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the magazine racks are stacked with copies of The Economist and other titles from Britain, Australia, France and the United States.

But one top-selling magazine there was founded in Phnom Penh and takes its name — Mekong Review — from the mighty river that runs beside the city’s low-rise downtown.

Mekong Review was first published in October 2015, and each quarterly issue has featured a mix of about 10 to 20 reviews, essays, poetry, fiction, Q.& A.s and investigative reports about the culture, politics and history of mainland Southeast Asia. Supporters say it is a welcome platform for Southeast Asian writers and scholars of the region, as well as a sharp political voice in countries where speech is perennially threatened.

Read more here

Literature Review: The Accusation by Bandi


THE PAST SEVERAL years have brought many surprises out of North Korea, but one that has perhaps received less attention from  Western media is the publication of The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea. The Accusation is a collection of short stories that were penned by a North Korean author, under the pseudonym of Bandi. 

Each of Bandi’s stories, completed between 1989 and 1995, follows a different cast of characters in a different part of North Korea under the rule of Kim Il-sung. Readers see the North’s regime through the eyes of a loving grandmother bent on visiting her pregnant daughter, a border sentry forced to participate in theater for a military arts festival, and a reporter profiling the chief technician of a struggling bean paste factory, to name a few. These stories are works of fiction, but together they paint a portrait of a real country permeated by contradictions and pain.

Read more of the article here

Welcome Agnieszka Dale!


We are thrilled to welcome Agnieszka Dale to the Barbara J Zitwer Agency International. FOX SEASON is now available for translation all over the world

BANDI - THE ACCUSATION event at New York Public Library - January 16, 2018. Join Us!

 PEN-award winner, International Bestseller, and Longlisted for the Aspen Literary Award. 

PEN-award winner, International Bestseller, and Longlisted for the Aspen Literary Award. 

“ Searing fiction by an anonymous dissident…. A fierce indictment of life in the totalitarian North.” – New York Times

Join us at the NY PUBLIC LIBRARY (42nd Street and Fifth Avenue)  on January 16th, Thursday night at 6:30 in the Celeste Auditorium for an evening celebrating the international bestseller and award winning, THE ACCUSATION by Bandi.  South Korean activist Mr. Do Hee-Yun will be speaking about how he arranged to smuggle the book out of North Korea, notable writers and journalists will read from the book, and a premiere selection from the upcoming opera based on the book,  by award winning composer, Theo Popov and  librettist Tony Asaro will be performed. 

Kyoung Sook-Shin in NYTimes article..If the World Was Ending, What would your last message be?

Dec. 1, 2017

This is an article from Turning Points, a magazine that explores what critical moments from this year might mean for the year ahead.

If the world was coming to an end and we were to send one last message out into the cosmos that summed up the beauty of life on Earth, what would it be? Jane Goodall, Mohsin Hamid, Oscar Murillo, James Dyson, Richard Dawkins, Kyung-sook Shin and Daniel Humm tell us.

Tell us how you would sum up the beauty of life on Earth on the Times Opinion Facebook page. We may highlight your response in a follow-up to this piece.


I was happy to be able to live on this Earth as my mother’s daughter. She taught me how to walk, how to put on clothes, how to speak my name. After I grew a bit older, she taught me that reading books is an important part of living in this world. Through her life itself, my mother taught me how to plant seeds, and that you reap what you sow, as well as how to console people when they are sad.

When I was 22, I started writing novels in my mother tongue, a language filled with the essence of my mother. I wrote about everything that is born in our hearts and in this world, from sorrow and beauty to passion and love. With words, I strived to restore things that had disappeared. I also wrote about my mother, who gave me everything but whom I took for granted at times.

Writing was my way of paying tribute to everything that was once alive on Earth and has since left. If I had raised a daughter, I would have taught her everything that I learned from my mother. I wish I could have.


Read more of the article at

CONGRATULATIONS BANDI's THE ACCUSATION on being longlisted for the Aspen Literary Prize!

First-Ever Aspen Words Literary Prize Unveils Its List Of Nominees

The Aspen Institute has unveiled the nominees for its first-ever fiction prize, a potpourri of 20 works plucked from across the world. Novels, short story collections, English-language or in translation — whatever their differences, each of the nominees “illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture,” in the estimation of Aspen Words Literary Prize judges.

You can listen and read more about it on

Congratulations Wioletta on a beautiful NY TIMES Book Review review!

By Wioletta Greg
Translated by Eliza Marciniak
146 pp. Transit Books. Paper, $15.95.

For those writers desiring to summon a lost past, especially as a way to re-enter childhood memory, the most pressing challenge is almost always one of resurrection: how to make what has already happened, that which can never happen again, feel as if it were still happening.

Read the article over at