THAT OTHER WORD | Episode 14 | February 2014 | Deborah Smith
This month, hosts Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito are sorry to have to finish Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel, a deeply impressive book that re-imagines Wuthering Heights in postwar Japan. Through the brand new translations of Honoré de Balzac’s The Human Comedy: Selected Stories and Natsume Sōseki’s Light and Dark, they enjoy re-discovering the honored classics of the French and Japanese traditions respectively. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Definitely Maybe offers a surreal science fiction romp from the Russian writers who inspired Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, while the essays in Dubravka Ugrešić’s Europe in Sepia examine the surreal, the pessimistic, and the hilarious, from the former Yugoslavia into Europe and beyond.
In the second part of the episode, Daniel Medin speaks with Deborah Smith, a translator from Korean to English based in London. Smith gives a fascinating overview of the history of Korean fiction, including its particular formal and generic development in the twentieth century, and describes the major characteristics — and appeal — of contemporary Korean literature, to her mind one of the world’s finest and most consistently robust. The conversation then moves onto Jung Young-moon, one of the oddest but best-respected writers working in Korea today, whose collection of short stories, A Most Ambiguous Sunday, was recently published as part of Dalkey Archive Press’ Library of Korean Literature. Jung Young-moon is followed by Han Kang, whose novel The Vegetarian (forthcoming in Smith’s translation) is a clever, politically sensitive triptych revolving around one woman’s decision to give up eating meat.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
0:50 Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel
5:34 Honoré de Balzac’s The Human Comedy: Selected Stories
8:02 Natsume Soseki’s Light and Dark
10:34 Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Definitely Maybe
12:34 Dubravka Ugrešić’s Europe in Sepia
FEATURE: Daniel Medin interviews Deborah Smith
15:24 Introductions; first acquaintance with the Korean language and literature
18:19 Characteristics of contemporary Korean literature
22:13 Jung Young-moonand the Dalkey Archive series
29:56 Han Kang and The Vegetarian