Description: This is an anthology of ten short stories by one of Korea's foremost living writers. Pak Wanso is the author of five novels, including The Naked Tree, and of several bestselling volumes of short prose. Her works have sold millions of copies in Korea, where the public and critics alike have applauded Pak as a masterful realist.
The literary world of Pak depicts the trials of the Korean War and the subsequent three decades of upheaval during which Korea was transformed from a military dictatorship and an agriculturally-based society to an urban industrialized, albeit troubled, democracy. Pak offers a searching woman's perspective on radical changes in Korean family structures and social values, exposing the cruelty and hypocrisy of Korea's Confucian traditions which have subjugated women for centuries. Her realistic prose also portrays the dehumanizing impacts of the capitalist market order that characterizes Korea today.
With rich insight, Pak presents moral ambiguities inherent in Korea's society today and encourages her readers to question the injustices that prevail in the more impersonal and often alienated world emerging in a "globalized" Korea. The stories are beautifully translated by Kyung-ja Chun (whose translation of Chae Man-Sik's Peace Under Heaven won the Korean Literature Translation grand prize in 1995).
Review(s): "Crumbling traditions and astonishing metamorphoses pervade the 10 stories in this collection. ... All are oblique comments on the political events crucially shaping South Korea since the 1950s war. ... With a unique blend of historical acumen and feminist insight into Korea's changing culture, this volume discloses for the American reader the range of one of South Korea's most distinguished living writers." -- Publishers Weekly
"These stories help us see into a culture that has so many ties to our own difficult history. ... Pak Wanso, skilled and formalistic, writes of how people cope, or do not. ... A dark and fascinating look at a culture into which we've had little insight." -- The Bloomsbury Review
"An excellent anthology of ten short stories by one of Korea's foremost living writers. ... [A] significant contribution to Asian studies." -- The Midwest Book Review
"Strips away the self-delusions of a nation in transition and captures the beleaguered humanity at its core." -- City Pages
"The 10 stories ... offer glimpses of a society at once anchored in and imprisioned by strict Confucian mores and buffeted by war, political unrest and massive emigration." -- The New York Times Book Review
"A welcome addition to the repertory of Korean literature in translation...There is a fine introduction by Kyung Ja Chun with information about the author, her life and works, and summaries of the stories with criticism...The translations are smooth and effective...These are fascinating stories with many levels." -- World Literature Today
"With rich insight, Pak presents the moral ambiguities inherent in Korea's society today and encourages her readers to question the injustices that prevail in the more impersonal and often alienated world emerging in a "globalized" Korea." -- The U.S. Korea Review
"This volume is a welcome addition to the growing body of modern Korean literary works now available in English. The translation on the whole is quite good. ... this volume serves the important function of representing the range of this fascinating writer." -- The Journal of Asian Studies
"Ten stories by the prolific author Pak Wanso are skillfully translated...I highly recommend this anthology...for those who would like to experience a slice of Korean life during different eras since the Korean War, and for those who would like to explore the inner workings of a uniquely Korean worldview. ... This volume is a wonderful first anthology of Pak Wanso's short stories in English translation..." -- Acta Koreana Vol. 5, No. 1