Communicating with the world through literature

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Communicating with the world through literature

On Nov. 16, the Dalkey Archive Press published 10 volumes of the Library of Korean Literature in collaboration with the Literature Translation Institute of Korea. From Yi Kwang-su’s “The Soil” to Jang Eun-jin’s “No One Writes Back,” the 10 volumes included major and up-and-coming authors from Korea’s modern literature. Next year, 15 more volumes will be published to complete the collection. The institute said it planned a promotional event by inviting 10 Korean authors, including those whose works will be published in the collection at the 2014 London Book Fair.

The Dalkey Archive Press has published more than 500 great works of literature from around the world over the past 30 years. It is an influential publisher in the noncommercial literature industry. With authors such as Camilo Jose Cela, Manuel Puig and Viktor Shklovsky, the Dalkey Archive Press published works by many winners of the National Book Award, Pulitzer and Nobel Literature prize. Christopher Merrill, director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program, welcomed the prestigious archive’s publication of the Korean works by saying that the Dalkey Archive Press is like a passageway to engage the lively literary voices from around the world into the American literature with its future-oriented insight, and that American leaders will be able to contemplate the potential of Korean literature.

The collection has longevity in comparison to single volumes. The Library of Korean Literature will stay on bookshelves at homes for a long time, instead of being vanished after a brief display at bookstores. When some volumes of the collection are sold, others will automatically be publicized. When they are turned into musicals or movies, it will also help the sale of the entire collection.

In the United States, translated works only comprise 3 percent of the market, and patience is a must for the Korean works of literature to become established. Founder of White Pine Press, Dennis Maloney, said in an interview in April that the global popularity of K-pop music won’t automatically translate into interest of Korean works, and it will be a long journey for Korean literature to capture the readers using other languages, including English. Expectations are high that the publication of the Library of Korean Literature will serve as an opportunity to increase empathy with the English-language leaders and to improve Korean literature’s communication with the world.

* Hae Yisoo, Novelist
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