As contemporary Korean literature receives increasing acclaim in English-language circles—Han Kang’s The Vegetarian won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize—it is perhaps inevitable that efforts are being made to introduce older Korean classics to the English language mainstream. One of of these is Sweet Potato, a newly-translated volume of short stories by Kim Tongin (or Kim Dong-in) written mostly in the Japanese colonial period between the Wars.

“Kim Tongin’s literary achievements had important literary historical significance, leading to the establishment of modern Korean fiction and its rapid popularization,” writes Youngmin Kwon in the introduction. Kim’s place in Korean literary history is perhaps a matter for scholars; not being one, I can only come to this collection more or less as a general reader would.

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