For the past half-decade, Korean literature in translation has gone from being the exciting talking-point of the literary world to one of its dominant forces. Authors like Han Kang, Bae Suah, and Shin Kyung-sook are near enough household names in the West. And now that we’ve come this far, it’s time to look at what incredible Korean books we can look forward to in 2020.
Books & Bao, WILL HEATH
Yona, our protagonist, works for a travel company who send people on packaged vacations to places devastated by one disaster or another: dark tourism. When she is sent to investigate an island with only a sinkhole as its main hook, she is drawn into a plot to orchestrate a disaster for the sake of boosting tourism.
The twist? This is a North Korean novel. Not a propagandist tale that deifies the Kim regime, but a simple story of humanity which offers a glimpse into the ordinary, everyday lives of a family living in the modern-day DPRK.
This touching tale explores the power of the recipe, and of food as a source for bonding and family connection.
Two young women both have had their lives upended by loss. One has lost her home and her father to a fire that she seeks to uncover the true cause of. The other has lost her sister to suicide but believes a truer cause to be hidden somewhere.