What did I just read? These short stories range from gross to disturbing. They are a mix of fables, horror, and fantasy. They were unsettling, but a breath of fresh air. I needed something unexpected like this right now. I am rarely disapointed by Korean translated fiction and this one just surprised the heck out of me. This is a newer author that I will have to keep an eye out for. I am happy to see that she has just made the shortlist for the Man Booker International 2022 prize! I hope she wins!
Below are my thoughts about each story. Stop reading now if you don’t want spoilers! You have been warned.
- The Head - A ho-hum story that doesn’t get unsettling until the end.
- The Embodiment - A virgin pregnant woman tries to find a man to help take care of her baby. Feels like a comment on Korean culture where woman have to get married before it’s too late and the become old maids.
- Cursed Bunny - A story of a cursed object and the destruction it reaps on the target and the maker of this object.
- Frozen Finger - This is a trippy story about dying. Did the woman die? Is she dying? I am still trying to figure out this one. I think I need to re-read it.s
- Snare - A disturbing sort of Eastern european-esque fable about greed. It starts innocently enough, like the story of the goose who lays the golden egg, but gets extreme very quickly. This has a typical Korean movie ending, they all die and have a horrible life at the end. I rarely find Korean movies/books where they all live happily ever after.
- Goodbye, My Love - A comment on our throwaway culture and when tech decides to throw us away. This is the only sci-fi one in this book.
- Scars - Another one that feels like a fable. A boy is sacrified to a beast that slowly changes him. Eventually he escapes and finds more monsters outside of his cave. When he finally ‘wins’, he actually loses.
- Home Sweet Home - This one was great. It is 100% Korean - expensive house prices and trying to keep your head above water! It snuck on me and was deeply satisfing at the end. The revenge of this woman against those that wronged her is great. She has won…but at what cost? She seems ok with the tradeoff in the end.
- Rule of the Winds and Sands - Feels like a pretty regular fairy tale. This one was the least gruesome and disturbing of the lot. This is probably the only one that is ‘clean’ enough to read to your children.
- Reunion - Feels somewhat autobiographical as it’s about a young asian woman doing a project in Poland. The author has a PhD in Slavic literature.
It feels she got lots of inspiration for some of these short stories from European fairy tales. I have heard the original forms of Grimm’s Fairy Tales for example, are quite gruesome - a granny who eats children? a wolf who eats Little Red riding hood? These short stories seem like fairy tales when you first read them until they take a twist and become horror, or just gross.
#horror, short story, fable, supernatural, ghost
Book #33 in my 2022 Reading Challenge