My top 3 picks in Korean and Japanese literature
I have been reading the works of a lot of Asian writers recently and these are some of my favourite books in Japanese and Korean literature.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang- Based on Han’s 1997 short story “The Fruit of My Woman”, this three-part novel is set in modern-day Seoul and tells the story of Yeong-hye, a part-time graphic artist and home-maker, whose decision to stop consuming meat after a bloody, nightmarish dream about human cruelty leads to devastating consequences in her personal and familial life. A thrilling read!
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami- It’s a very small, airy book and I adore it so much. In this book Kawakami spins a tale of modern love in Tokyo between a young woman and her former school teacher, in a very poignant, warm, and funny way. The story is lovely and the dream-like prose is nothing short of magic. It’s interspersed with great dialogue, delicious food, and sometimes awkward but always endearing conversations between the two central characters. This was my introduction to Kawakami and I have loved her writing style so very much in this book that I will be reading more of her work in the future.
Almond by Sohn Won-pyung- A very unique story about a boy named Yunjae who suffers from a brain condition called Alexithymia, which makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear, love, anger or sadness. He lives alone but doesn’t get lonely because he can’t feel it in the first place. The book takes us through his emotionless life which ironically enough, is quite moving for the readers. It is a pacey read, with brief chapters and a pretty straightforward writing. The book is brimming with the culture and contemporary lifestyle in urban South Korea and gives a fascinating insight.