For September’s return of the book club we will be reading One Hundred Shadows, the acclaimed Korean novel written by Hwang Jungeun and translated by Jung Yewon.
An oblique, hard-edged novel tinged with offbeat fantasy, One Hundred Shadows is set in a slum electronics market in central Seoul. Here, the awkward, tentative relationship between Eungyo and Mujae, who both dropped out of formal education to work as repair-shop assistants, is made yet more uncertain by their economic circumstances, while they matter-of-factly discuss a strange recent development – the shadows of the slum’s inhabitants have started to ‘rise’.
Hwang’s spare prose is illuminated by arresting images, quirky dialogue and moments of great lyricism, crafting a deeply affecting novel of perfectly calibrated emotional restraint. As well as an important contribution to contemporary working-class literature, One Hundred Shadows depicts the little-known underside of a society which can be viciously superficial, complicating the shiny, ultra-modern face which South Korea presents to the world.
The book club provides a free, friendly and gentle environment in which opinions are shared and new appreciations can be discovered. There is wine, curious minds and relaxed conversation. Come and join our warm bookish group – all are welcome.
Born in 1976, Hwang Jungeun is one of the bright young things of Korean literature, having published two collections of short stories and three novels to date. One Hundred Shadows (2010), her first novel, was both a critical and commercial success; its mix of oblique fantasy, hard-edge social critique, and offbeat romance garnered the Hankook Ilbo Literary Award and the Korean Booksellers’ Award.
Jung Yewon is also the translator of No One Writes Back by Jang Eun-jin and one of the co-translators of A Most Ambiguous Sunday and Other Stories by Jung Young Moon, both published by Dalkey Archive as part of their Library of Korean Literature series. Her translation of Jung Young Moon’s Vaseline Buddha is published by Deep Vellum.
Readers don’t have to buy the bookclub book from the shop, however we do rely on those booksales to be able to keep the event & refreshments free, to pay our booksellers for their time prepping & running book clubs and to keep the lights on. Please do NOT buy your books from am*z*on (here’s why), if you cannot afford to buy the book then PLEASE support your local library.