January 2022 Harriett Book Club

We were pretty excited about our first book club of 2022 as we were expecting a guest for the first time: Anton Hur, translator of Korean writer Bora Chung’s Cursed Bunny! We also all finished reading Cursed Bunny. It had been some time since all of us finished reading a book from cover to cover and actually enjoyed reading it – and that seemed like a really good start to a new year.

Cursed Bunny is genre-defying collection of short stories by Korean writer Bora Chung that fuses magical realism, horror, speculative fiction, and, above all, ‘unrealistic’ fiction. The first story ‘The Head’ is no doubt an effective hook that fully captures the reader’s attention and offers a foretaste of what Bora Chung is capable of as a writer of unrealistic short stories.

What really struck me was Bora Chung’s cleverness in challenging and twisting logic, imagining possible what would be inconceivable in real life, and turning the ordinary and conventional on its head. My favourite story is ‘Snare’ in which the traditional portrayal of women as predominantly evil foxes in Korean folktales is challenged and the state of patriarchy and human greed in the Korean society is examined.

Anton shared more about Bora Chung’s writing style and that helped us better appreciate her written work. He helped us see that she tries to write stories as objectively as she can and does not feel the need to explain a scene, which avoids the violence of imposing her views on the reader. There is also a beauty in her sentences that evokes both horror and humour at the same time.

Anton also told us more about his role as a translator and strategist for Cursed Bunny and his other translated book Love in the Big City by Korean writer Sangyong Park. My question for him was how far he would go as a translator. And the truth is he goes all out for his Korean authors, handling the translation, networking, marketing, securing interview opportunities. His efforts are tireless.

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Join us in February as we discuss Marathi writer Sachin Kundalkar’s Cobalt Blue, translated by Jerry Pinto. We’ll be discussing Chinese writer Ken Liu’s Broken Stars in March.

Everyone is welcome to join our book club. We meet online every last weekend of the month. For more updates, follow us on Instagram and Facebook!