Recent books

2012-10-26 : 18:32

Haruki Murakami: Translated by Yang Yoon-ok from Japanese to Korean: 100 pp., 13,800 won

People tend to spend one-third of their lives sleeping. But what happens if you can’t sleep? Prominent Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s short story revolves around a housewife who doesn’t sleep for several days after having a nightmare.

Her sleeplessness doesn’t affect her. Rather she spends her nights reading classic Russian novels, drinking and sometimes leaving the house when her husband and son fall asleep. She wants to transform her nightlife, using time as she pleases.

The female protagonist reflects Murakami’s tastes in literature, cooking and exercise.

Murakami wrote the story in 1989 when staying in Rome. It was published before but this new version has been released with illustrations by German artist Kat Menschik that enrich Murakami’s dreamlike features.

― Chung Ah-young


Im Ji-seon; Alma: 248 pp., 13,000 won

Economic growth brings material abundance to our society but people don’t appear any happier. Many young people are struggling to land a decent job and suffering from poverty. They can’t afford to enjoy their present life because of instability and extreme competition.

This book says that our society should pay attention to their suffering instead of just giving advice or consoling them.

From a high school girl living without a dream and a university student who lost his life doing a part-time job to pay off tuition loans to a woman who worked as a prostitute to support her family, this book touches on the darker sides of our society, focusing on the agonies of today’s youth.

Consisting of 24 stories under the four categories of labor, money, competition and women, it vividly tells of the dreams and frustrations of the young generation.

The author tries to awaken society to change. Corporate culture, governmental and social systems are blamed for oppressing youths, making it hard for them to live a better life.

― Chung Ah-young

Five Senses and Contemporary Art

Rhee Ji-eun; Yibom: 312 pp., 22,000 won

Contemporary art is often considered difficult and abstruse and the public often feels more comfortable with 19th century art and pieces from the Renaissance.

Author Rhee Ji-eun, a contemporary art historian and professor at Myongji University, recognizes this and tries to approach the matter from the viewpoint of ordinary people. .

The book begins with Rhee's experience at the Museum of Modern Art in New York when she encountered a gallery full of sound in 2005. This was Canadian artist Jane Cardiff’s “The Forty Part Motet” and Rhee was moved by it. However, she wondered what contemporary art is, when the boundaries become blurry and sometimes confusing.

Rhee explores the world of contemporary art which encompasses all five senses _ sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste -- and even excretion, going beyond the common knowledge of painting or sculpture. She also discusses works of Olafur Eliasson and Ann Hamilton and how viewers interact with them.

― Kwon Mee-yoo

It’s a good life, if you don’t weaken

Seth; Translated from English to Korean by Choi Se-hee; Anibooks: 192 pp., 12,000 won

Seth’s graphic novel is about a world in which everything changes too quickly.

He tells a story about himself, a depressed individual who feels lost in the world until he discovers a 1950s New Yorker cartoonist Kalo, whose work is an inspiration and source of joy. Then Seth goes on to devote some years of his life to finding out Kalo’s identity and goes as far as to find the cartoonist’s house and visits his family. He also returns home to see his mother and brother and finds himself traveling to his childhood home.

There is nothing big or important about this tale. It’s just about a man who takes an interest in something, even if it’s trivial. Readers will find this story exquisite, the pictures divine and the relationship between the truth and lies interesting. It is an easy read even for those who are not enthusiastic about graphic novels.

― Rachel Lee