4th Estate swoops in on Korean thriller
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.