• Book
  • English(English)

일곱시 삼십이분 코끼리열차



    Title: The Seven Thirty-two Elephant Train

    Author: Hwang Jung-eun

    Genre: Novel(short stories)


    LTI Korea staff: Alex Baek ( / +82-2-6919-7741)


  • About the book

    The Seven Thirty-two Elephant Train, a collection of short stories by Hwang Jung-eun, depicts the lives of those who live in the margins of society and are pushed over the edge of the “city fence” while the rich and the powerful do nothing but make excuses. The stories are told in fading voices—faint voices buried in the glamorous noise of the city; the groans of countless people muffled by the sound of cell phones and television; pained voices that make you want to close your ears in agony. The homeless, the vagrant, and the abandoned child speak out freely in these stories.


    The protagonists of Hwang’s stories are as follows. In “Hat,” three siblings must move around often because their father turns into a hat anytime, anywhere. The father turns into this inanimate object when he loses his job, when he can’t buy so much as a radio for his children, when he fails to mediate between his mother and his wife, and so on. He even turns into a hat after running to a police station to report a man who sexually assaulted his daughter, feeling helpless when government authorities pay no attention to the protests of a civil petitioner. In “The Door,” the protagonist, “m,” has a door on his back, one that’s invisible to other people; in “Roly Poly and Thrush,” a bank clerk shrinks and turns into a roly poly;the strange pet in “Living with Gokdo” speaks human language and evaluates its owner, who is at its service. In the title story, “The Seven Thirty-two Elephant Train,” an allusion is made between domestic abuse and the inhumanity of zoos. The protagonist of this story, abused by his uncle, creates another ego for himself and splits into two personalities. The conversations between the two different egos, schizophrenic and illogical, are reminiscent of Ionesco’s theater of the absurd.


    The collection contains eleven short stories armed with Hwang’s unique humor and spirit. Her works, while touching upon the pain and sorrows of everyday life, are light and cheerful. The tone is also apathetic, gruff, indifferent. Hwang’s fantasy, touching everyday life, reveals the reality of the actual world.


    About the author

    Born in 1976, Hwang began her literary career in 2005, since which she has received prominent literary awards in Korea, drawing the attention of the literary world. Her first collection of short stories, remarkable for its unique imagination which takes you back and forth between fantasy and reality, has given rise to the “Hwang Jung-eun syndrome;” Her style cannot be compared to that of any other author in the history of Korean literature. Through her works, including the short story collection, Into the World of Passi, and the novels, One Hundred Shadows and The Barbaric Miss Alice, Hwang depicts the lives of those living in the margins of Korean society through a unique style combining a description of terrifying violence and poetic sensibility. Hwang’s works have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish, among other languages.

    About the translators

    Jung Yewon is the translator of One Hundred Shadows, by Hwang Jung-eun. She is also the translator of No One Writes Back by Jang Eun-jin and one of the co-translators of A Most Ambiguous Sunday and Other Stories by Jung Young Moon, both published by Dalkey Archive as part of their Library of Korean Literature series. Her translation of Jung Young Moon’s Vaseline Buddha is published by Deep Vellum.


    Media Response/Awards Received

    The fantastic elements in this collection of short stories work to accentuate the harsh reality of the modern society and shrinking of humanity, just as chimerical mythology delves keenly into the mystery of human nature.

    -Segye Ilbo


    Hwang’s lightheartedness comes across as something mechanical and unconscious. This lightheartedness, distinct from the intensity and desperation found in the satire, humor, and jokes found in the narratives of the past era, is something that feels inhuman, like the response of a roly poly to external stimulation—apathetic, gruff, indifferent.

     – Seo Yeong-chae, literary critic


     The author’s insight on the process involved in the birth and maintenance of a family, touched by strong, conflicting feelings and revealed in the short story, “Hat,” has brought new hope for the Korean novel

    – A judge’s comment for the 2007 Lee Hyo-seok Literary Award


    * “Hat”: Awarded the 2007 Lee Hyo-seok Literary Award

Translated Books (13)

News from Abroad (42)