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These nine stories span half a century of contemporary writing in Korea (1970s–2010s), bringing together some of the most famous twentieth-century women writers with a new generation of young, bold voices. Their work explores a world not often seen in the West, taking us into the homes, families, lives and psyches of Korean women, men, and children. In the earliest of the s These nine stories span half a century of contemporary writing in Korea (1970s–2010s), bringing together some of the most famous twentieth-century women writers with a new generation of young, bold voices. Their work explores a world not often seen in the West, taking us into the homes, families, lives and psyches of Korean women, men, and children. In the earliest of the stories, Pak Wan-so, considered the elder stateswoman of contemporary Korean fiction, opens the door into two "Identical Apartments" where sisters-in-law, bound as much by competition as love, struggle to live with their noisy, extended families. O Chong-hui, who has been compared to Joyce Carol Oates and Alice Munro, examines a day in the life of a woman after she is released from a mental institution, while younger writers, such as Kim Sagwa, Han Yujoo and Ch'on Un-yong explore violence, biracial childhood, and literary experimentation. These stories will sometimes disturb and sometimes delight, as they illuminate complex issues in Korean life and literature. Internationally acclaimed translators Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton have won several awards and fellowships for the numerous works of Korean literature they have translated into English. Featuring these authors and stories: Pak Wan-so: "Identical Apartments" Kim Chi-won: "Almaden" So Yong-un: "Dear Distant Love" O Chong-hui: "Wayfarer" Kong Son-ok: "The Flowering of Our Lives" Kim Ae-ran: "The Future of Silence" Han Yujoo: "I Am the Scribe—Or Am I" Kim Sagwa: "Today Is One of Those The-More-You-Move-the-Stranger-It-Gets Days, and It's Simply Amazing" Ch'on Un-yong: "Ali Skips Rope"


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These nine stories span half a century of contemporary writing in Korea (1970s–2010s), bringing together some of the most famous twentieth-century women writers with a new generation of young, bold voices. Their work explores a world not often seen in the West, taking us into the homes, families, lives and psyches of Korean women, men, and children. In the earliest of the s These nine stories span half a century of contemporary writing in Korea (1970s–2010s), bringing together some of the most famous twentieth-century women writers with a new generation of young, bold voices. Their work explores a world not often seen in the West, taking us into the homes, families, lives and psyches of Korean women, men, and children. In the earliest of the stories, Pak Wan-so, considered the elder stateswoman of contemporary Korean fiction, opens the door into two "Identical Apartments" where sisters-in-law, bound as much by competition as love, struggle to live with their noisy, extended families. O Chong-hui, who has been compared to Joyce Carol Oates and Alice Munro, examines a day in the life of a woman after she is released from a mental institution, while younger writers, such as Kim Sagwa, Han Yujoo and Ch'on Un-yong explore violence, biracial childhood, and literary experimentation. These stories will sometimes disturb and sometimes delight, as they illuminate complex issues in Korean life and literature. Internationally acclaimed translators Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton have won several awards and fellowships for the numerous works of Korean literature they have translated into English. Featuring these authors and stories: Pak Wan-so: "Identical Apartments" Kim Chi-won: "Almaden" So Yong-un: "Dear Distant Love" O Chong-hui: "Wayfarer" Kong Son-ok: "The Flowering of Our Lives" Kim Ae-ran: "The Future of Silence" Han Yujoo: "I Am the Scribe—Or Am I" Kim Sagwa: "Today Is One of Those The-More-You-Move-the-Stranger-It-Gets Days, and It's Simply Amazing" Ch'on Un-yong: "Ali Skips Rope"

30 review for The Future of Silence: Fiction by Korean Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Charles Montgomery

    Immediately replaces "Questioning Minds" as the essential collection of Korean Fiction by women. 9 stories, 8 of which are utterly compelling (The 9th is a kind of trifle). If you have read "Wayfarer: New Fiction by Korean Women" you will recognise half of these stories, but as that is fairly unknown and now out of print (still available on Amazon), this is likely to be most reader's first exposure to these works. Park Wan-suh’s "Identical Apartments" is a cold appraisal of the Korean rat-race fo Immediately replaces "Questioning Minds" as the essential collection of Korean Fiction by women. 9 stories, 8 of which are utterly compelling (The 9th is a kind of trifle). If you have read "Wayfarer: New Fiction by Korean Women" you will recognise half of these stories, but as that is fairly unknown and now out of print (still available on Amazon), this is likely to be most reader's first exposure to these works. Park Wan-suh’s "Identical Apartments" is a cold appraisal of the Korean rat-race for women. O Chon-hui’s "Wayfarer" and Kim Sagwa’s "It’s One of Those the-more-I’m-in-Motion-the-Weirder-it-Gets Days, and It’s Really Blowing My Mind", are brutal in two entirely different ways, but fun reads. Kim Chi-won’s "Almaden" and Cheon Un-yeong’s delightful, "Ali Skips Rope" examine the positions of two outsiders in society. Kong Seon-ok contributes "The Flowering of our Lives", a kind of Korean buddy-story between two unlikely allies navigating difficult circumstances with soju and sisterhood. "Dear Distant Love" is a bit too traditional of a “wronged woman” Korean narrative for my taste, but I imagine it will resonate with other readers. The collection is concluded by Kim Ae-ran’s excellent "The Future of Silence", which in increasingly surreal form, celebrates the “vitality and dynamism” which an increasingly modern world snuffs out without intent or understanding.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James F

    This anthology of nine short stories was the last Korean reading for the World Literature Group on Goodreads, which is moving on to Arabic fiction in March. Like the previous anthology I read this year, Modern Korean Fiction, it was co-edited by Bruce Fulton; this one was co-edited and translated with his wife, Jo-Chan Fulton. The first story, "Wayfarer" by O Chŏng-hŭi, was also in the other anthology. The stories date from the 1980s through the first decade of the twenty-first century, and are This anthology of nine short stories was the last Korean reading for the World Literature Group on Goodreads, which is moving on to Arabic fiction in March. Like the previous anthology I read this year, Modern Korean Fiction, it was co-edited by Bruce Fulton; this one was co-edited and translated with his wife, Jo-Chan Fulton. The first story, "Wayfarer" by O Chŏng-hŭi, was also in the other anthology. The stories date from the 1980s through the first decade of the twenty-first century, and are in the order of publication. All nine stories are essentially about the alienation of women in a still fairly traditional society; the first five stories are fairly realistic psychological stories in a more or less traditional narrative style; the last four are more experimental in various ways. "Wayfarer" is about a woman who is ostracized because of an event in her past; "Almaden" by Kim Chi-wŏn is about an unhappily married salesclerk who fantasizes about a customer; "Dear Distant Love" by Sŏ Yŏng-ŭn is about a woman in a masochistic relationship with a toxic married man; "Identical Apartments" by Pak Wan-sŏ (also spelled Park Wan-suh, by whom I have previously read a book of stories and a novel) was the best of the earlier stories, about conformity and competition, and "The Flowering of Our Lives" by Kong Sŏn-ok is about a woman and her daughter who both rebel in different ways. The more experimental stories begin with "I Ain't Necessarily So" by Han Yujoo, a sort of surrealist fantasy which I thought was the least successful of the nine (although since there is much wordplay it might have been very good in the original Korean); it's followed by Kim Sagwa's "It's One of Those The-More-I'm-in-Motion-the-Weirder-It-Gets Days and It's Really Blowing My Mind" is about a white-collar worker in a boring job who fantasizes about violence, and it's ambiguous whether the later violence is real or imagined; then Ch'ŏn Un-yŏng's "Ali Skips Rope", my favorite of the nine, about a mixed-race person whose father is a boxer and named her/him after Mohammed Ali (the protagonist is biologically female but identifies as a boy); and finally the title story, "The Future of Silence" is another very good and very experimental story, a bitter satire told from the perspective of the spirit of a dead language after the death of the last speaker in a museum of dying cultures. These are all good stories and this anthology was a good ending to a year of very interesting readings from authors I might otherwise never have known about (of all the books we read, only one, The Vegetarian, was in the library without my requesting it.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    John Armstrong

    Yet another Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton anthology of modern Korean short stories by woman authors. The editors put it together by taking an older anthology, Wayfarer: New Writing by Korean Women (1997), discarding three stories and adding four news ones. To my mind it is a revised edition of the original work and not a new work and should have retained the original title – and ideally all original contents too as well as the additions. I am always troubled when a later edition of an anthology disca Yet another Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton anthology of modern Korean short stories by woman authors. The editors put it together by taking an older anthology, Wayfarer: New Writing by Korean Women (1997), discarding three stories and adding four news ones. To my mind it is a revised edition of the original work and not a new work and should have retained the original title – and ideally all original contents too as well as the additions. I am always troubled when a later edition of an anthology discards works present in previous editions. But what I would really have preferred is a completely new anthology focusing completely on women’s writing of the 21st century. The four new stories in this collection – all published after 2000, all by authors born after 1970 (all but one after 1980) – give an idea of this writing, showing a mixture of diversity of forms and common themes, but it would be nice a broader selection, perhaps eight items to match the count of the original edition or even more.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    This collection is worth the read, but largely forgettable. I did appreciate the skilled hand in selecting these pieces as representative of contemporary Korean fiction by female authors, but I found that after I read a story I could barely remember it. There were only three that really stuck with me and one was because I wasn't too keen on bits of the translation. Most of the stories are expertly translated, if a bit awkward in dialogue sections, but for some reason Pak Wan-so's really rubbed This collection is worth the read, but largely forgettable. I did appreciate the skilled hand in selecting these pieces as representative of contemporary Korean fiction by female authors, but I found that after I read a story I could barely remember it. There were only three that really stuck with me and one was because I wasn't too keen on bits of the translation. Most of the stories are expertly translated, if a bit awkward in dialogue sections, but for some reason Pak Wan-so's really rubbed me the wrong way even though I was enjoying the plot of a housewife feeling absorbed into the one-ness and homogeneity of keeping-up-with-the-joneses apartment block living. The story that I found the most interesting was Chon Un-Yong's which might have had an added impact of reading it soon after the passing of Muhammad Ali whose legacy plays an integral part to this exquisitely blended story of racism, sexism and 'miscegenation'.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Hoefer

    Short fiction? check. Depressing? check. Atompsheric? check, check. Plots that don't really go anywhere? Big ol' check! All my sweet spots in one collection.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Robert Gebhardt

    A great collection of Korean women's writing. Some of the stories were odd and/or disturbing. Some didn't really speak to me. Some were excellent. My favorites: Identical Apartments, by Pak Wan-so Ali Skips Rope, by Chon Un-yong The Future of Silence, by Kim Ae-ran. This last one was beautiful and sad, especially for language lovers. The best title award goes to: "It's one of those the-more-I'm-in-motion-the-weirder-it-gets days, and it's really blowing my mind". Although the story was a tad too d A great collection of Korean women's writing. Some of the stories were odd and/or disturbing. Some didn't really speak to me. Some were excellent. My favorites: Identical Apartments, by Pak Wan-so Ali Skips Rope, by Chon Un-yong The Future of Silence, by Kim Ae-ran. This last one was beautiful and sad, especially for language lovers. The best title award goes to: "It's one of those the-more-I'm-in-motion-the-weirder-it-gets days, and it's really blowing my mind". Although the story was a tad too disturbing for me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gaia

    I got this book as a present from a friend, and it surprised me with its amazing stories. It is a really nice collection of short stories by Korean female writers that are captivating, varied and seem well-translated. It has definitely made me interested in reading more literature by these authors!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mallee Stanley

    Some of these short stories were intriguing; others I just couldn't get into.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cyn Morales

    Todas son muy buenas historias y una mirada interesante de autoras que de otra manera, no hubiera conocido.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    A nice set of short stories. My favourite was the last one: The Future of Silence The translations sounded smooth to me

  11. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    As each story ended I was forced to pause and let it resonate. Fantastic collection! 2018 Reading Women Challenge: A short story collection

  12. 5 out of 5

    Qiu Ting

    I am going to be honest with myself. I only enjoyed the first story...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Smith

    This was the February BOTM pick. This was a book of Korean short stories originally published in 1989, and had been expanded and republished in 2016. O Chŏng-hŭi: “Wayfarer”: I think there was so much more to this story that we missed somehow. Besides the fact that she was accused of killing her lover because she was in her slip. And it sounded like she asked for the divorce not him? Did she ask for one because she was tired of the accusations? And if he didn’t want it why did he abandon her in t This was the February BOTM pick. This was a book of Korean short stories originally published in 1989, and had been expanded and republished in 2016. O Chŏng-hŭi: “Wayfarer”: I think there was so much more to this story that we missed somehow. Besides the fact that she was accused of killing her lover because she was in her slip. And it sounded like she asked for the divorce not him? Did she ask for one because she was tired of the accusations? And if he didn’t want it why did he abandon her in the mental hospital? And what happened with her daughter? Why did the daughter say “mommy forgive us what we did was a crime”. Then later she said her daughter was a liar? I need to re-read the story. Kim Chi-wŏn: “Almaden”: I agree the stories do not wrap up at the end...very strange. Did anyone catch the hunger refrence? “She felt as if he had the soul of a beggar; he was a hungry man who could never be satisfied.” Its not as predominate as in the first story, but it was there. Maybe I’m just looking now. Sŏ Yŏng-ŭn: “Dear Distant Love”: Her aunt had the right of it. Wow was she brainwashed or what. Staying with and for that asshat! What was the suffering supposed to lead her to? And why didn’t she take her kid and marry the lawyer or go to America? Ugh that was awful. I mean the writing was good, but man was it bleak Pak Wan-sŏ: “Identical Apartments”: Oh my god this story was so boring, I couldn’t stand the author...she was a jealous petty bitch. The whole story was tedious and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. And tha pact that she pittied her husband was awful too Kong Sŏn-ok: “The Flowering of Our Lives”: I think she is a lesbian that wants to be a prostitute but isn’t? She the hunger and food was predominant again Han Yujoo: “I Ain’t Necessarily So”: I have no idea what the point of that story was, all I can say is thank god it was short! Kim Sagwa: “It’s One of Those the-More-I’m-in-Motion-the-Weirder-It-Gets Days, and It’s Really Blowing My Mind”: Ok this was a weird one! Was he dreaming, did he really go postal and murder those people? Were we inside the head of a schizophrenic? All the death happened at diner tables...and the sister became a pig? Ch’ŏn Un-yŏng: “Ali Skips Rope”: Ok so I didn’t realize until the end that the narrator was a young girl. It made more sense then. This one seemed to make the most sense of all the ones we have read so far. Kim Ae-ran: “The Future of Silence”: This one made my eyes glaze over, and I realized halfway through that I wasn’t retaining any of it and I had to start over. This was depressing, and sad. And very sci-fi. For additional reviews please see my blog at www.adventuresofabibliophile.blogspot...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lex

    Favourite stories: Wayfarer, Dear Distant Love, Identical Apartments

  15. 5 out of 5

    Angela Bailey

    I didn't have time to finish this one, but I'm not sure I would have anyway. The stories are beautifully written, and certainly give some insight into Korean women and culture of the past. But I honestly found it quite depressing with no resolutions. But if that doesn't bother you, it is an interesting read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    A fascinating introduction to contemporary Korean fiction. All of the stories are good, but I particularly recommend the stories by Kim Sagwa and Kim Ae-ran.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tay Massey

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ross

  19. 4 out of 5

    World Literature Today

    This book was featured in the Nota Benes section of the January 2017 issue of World Literature Today Magazine. https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/... This book was featured in the Nota Benes section of the January 2017 issue of World Literature Today Magazine. https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Paul Vittay

  21. 4 out of 5

    B. Asma

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bananna_anna

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Washburn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Yessy Onac

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hester

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin Merritt

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rose R

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

  30. 5 out of 5

    Weixian

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