translated by Ed Park
Shin Kyung-sook is one of South Korea’s most popular writers of contemporary fiction. She has published seven novels and numerous short stories, and has won several literary prizes in her own country. She broke new ground for Korean writers in March 2012 when the English translation of her novel, Please Look after Mother, won the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize. The book had already sold close to two million copies in Korean.
ALR: Is Please Look after Mother autobiographical?
SKS: I have lived as the daughter of a mother. My personal stories, of course, are contained [in the novel]. In writing a book with ‘mother’ as its theme from the first page to the last, how could I leave out my feelings towards my mother? As is the case with any writing, my work begins from within myself; however, when the novel becomes complete it is no longer my story. It is a story of my contemporaries in society.
ALR: Now that you are internationally known, will you adapt your style to a foreign audience?
SKS: Is it even possible to tailor a book for someone? In whatever circumstance, I only write a story that I want to write, and I do it in my own style. One of the reasons I chose to become a writer was my desire to be free, without any constraints imposed on me. Now, when I write, I feel infinitely free. I relish this freedom, which I have only recently attained.
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