Hwang Jungeun: 百의 그림자 (One Hundred Shadows)


The latest addition to my website is Hwang Jungeun‘s 百의 그림자 (One Hundred Shadows). This is a very original work, which has had considerable success in South Korea, about very ordinary people in South Korea, whose shadows behave erratically. This may mean rising up or even detaching themselves from their owners. There is no obvious reason for this and, indeed, it can be read literally, as a sort of fantasy about shadows. However, it does seem to occur when the individuals concerned are undergoing some sort of stress. The story is about two young people, who have both dropped out of school and now work in small businesses located in a huge market shed in a poorer part of town. He – Mujae – works for a man making transformers and she – Eungyo – works for man who repairs electronic appliances. Despite their apparent attraction for one another and their ongoing friendship, their romance does not progress but they do both have the shadow problem. Hwang Jungeun tells an excellent story with considerable sympathy for the poorer parts of society but it is the strange shadows and their erratic behaviour that makes this book so original. As far as I can determine this is the second book published by Tilted Axis Press, a press founded in 2015 that publishes the books that might not otherwise make it into English, for the very reasons that make them exciting to us – artistic originality, radical vision, the sense that here is something new. I look forward to more of their books.

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