Friday, October 02, 2009

'Intereview' with Park Wan-suh

Park Wan-suh
(Image from LTI Korea)

In a comment to yesterday's post on Shinga, an inquiry was posed as to whether Park Wan-suh was still living, and since others might also be wondering if this writer born in 1931 still lives, I am posting a link to a recent 'intereview' with the author by Shin Junebong for the autumn 2009 issue of the quarterly journal -list: Books from Korea., which is published by LTI Korea.

By the way, I write "intereview" because I made this typo yesterday in my reply to the query about Park Wan-suh and felt chagrin at the error until I realized that my newly coined word fits the sort of interview conducted -- a realization that occasioned pride . . . until a Google search found that thousands of others had already been circulating that coin for some time. Nothing new and shiny under the sun . . .

Anyway, to whet the curiosity of those who might not know of Park Wan-suh, here's how the 'intereview' opens:
The poet Ko Un and the novelist Hwang Sok-yong, often cited as candidates for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the poet Kim Ji-ha, for whom existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre signed a petition demanding his release from prison in 1974, are leading Korean writers who enjoy a degree of recognition outside the country. But there is another Korean writer without whom the history of modern Korean literature would be incomplete, even if she is not well known outside her native country. It could be argued, in fact, that her name belongs above those of Ko, Hwang, and Kim in the roll call of modern Korean writers.The author in question is 78 year old novelist Park Wansuh, born in 1931 in Gaepung-gun, Gyeonggi-do (province), in what is now North Korea. One of the leading veterans of the Korean literary scene, Park’s achievements both as a writer of literary fiction and a popular author are remarkable.
The interviewer managed to pry out of a reluctant author the statistic that her Shinga book has sold 1.5 million copies in Korea since its publication, which is a large number for a work of fine literature, especially in a country the size of Korea.

The English translation of Who Ate Up All the Shinga?, by Yu Young-nan and Stephen J. Epstein, deserves to sell even more in America's larger book market, but we'll see how well that goes.

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