translated by Shirley Lee
IN KOREA it was the morning of 1 October 2010; in New York it was the evening of 30 September. I could not contain my excitement – the live Amazon bestseller list had just been updated with Kim Young-ha’s Your Republic Is Calling You. That morning, as New Yorkers went to work, National Public Radio had introduced the book to America and following the broadcast online sales skyrocketed. The positive reaction of readers confirmed the global relevance of Kim’s work: it had the power to move people and provoke a universal response.
A few years earlier, in the autumn of 2005, I had felt electrified when I heard that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt wanted the rights to Kim’s novel I Have the Right to Destroy Myself. With its publication in July 2007 Korean literature had finally – and of its own accord – broken through the glass ceiling and entered the American market. The achievement held value for all Korean writers because it opened the way for Korean literature in a highly competitive international arena. Kim’s second novel was published in 2010 and released in ten countries; his third novel will be published at the end of this year.
Korean literature has been through a series of transformations. In the 1980s the culture of reading was at an explosively formative stage, and writers were breathing in intimate concert with their readers...
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