Sunday, October 07, 2018

Gerard Manogue's Review of Jang Jung-il's Short Novel When Adam Opens His Eyes

Regular visitors will perhaps recall that Sun-Ae and I translated Jang Jung-il's Short Novel When Adam Opens His Eyes in 2013. While surfing through the Internet, I found that the book is still being read, or it was at least being read in 2016 by Gerard Manogue. His review is relatively long, so the quoted passages below are only a small part of what he actually says:
In a small Singapore bookstore (Books Actually, lovely place) I was intrigued to come across this novel, as I spent some time teaching in South Korea in 2013 and have always wanted to acquaint myself with the literary tradition. This book is also part of a more expansive Library of Korean Literature series, so I hope to read more of these titles in the future as I generate income.
* * *
This wistful, lonely novel gives us the story of a young Korean man — we never know his name but we get the biblical nickname 'Adam' — and a portrait of his life as a nineteen-year old transitioning from boy to man in Daegu, a major city in the southern part of the country. Adam enters a cram school with the goal of entering a top university, acquiescing to the desires of his mother, who works in an underground subway mall to pay for Adam's tuition. Disillusioned with his prospects and feeling lonesome and stuck, Adam helplessly and apathetically searches for an exit from convention, using sex, music, reading, and different forms of loitering as ineffective devices.
* * *
Overall I really enjoyed this book, and I recommend this book to anyone who wants a deeper perspective into the South Korean psyche, or just a bittersweet, heartache of a read.
Mr. Manogue apparently liked the translation, though he didn't specifically say so. At any rate, thanks to him for taking the time to read the novel translated by my wife and me! For blog readers who want to read the full review, click here.



Post a Comment

<< Home