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    Title: Arriving in a Thick Fog Rights Sold

    Author: Jung Young Moon

    Genre: Novella Collection (4 novellas)

     

    LTI Korea staff: Alex Baek (alex_b@klti.or.kr / +82-2-6919-7741)

     

    The copyright of this title has been sold. (Translation and publication supported by LTI Korea)

Description

  • About the book

     In an interview after the publication of this book, author Jung Young Moon said, “My fiction is about ‘having nothing to say.’ It is composed of redundancies that call for more redundancies.” This is perhaps the most accurate description of Into a Thick Fog. A collection of four novellas, Into a Thick Fog places emphasis not on events, but on the intricate words uttered by its characters.

     The narrators of Jung Young Moon’s fiction muse endlessly. When one goes to a foreign country or is bitten by a fierce dog, the story does not unfold in the direction that the reader might expect. Whether he is confronted with a dramatic event or not, the focus resides in the intricate musings of the character who describes each situation. The stories do not follow definite plots. Instead, the narrator of each story, who is reminiscent of the author, streams the thoughts in his head. At first, these musings seem random and spontaneous, but a closer examination reveals that they are complex and calculated.

     The novella titled Dog Ear begins with a man who visits a female friend’s apartment, where he encounters a Maltese puppy. The man folds and unfolds the Maltese’s ears repeatedly, and although the dog shows little response, the man ascribes meaning to its every little action to advance the story. The reader feels as though he is peering deep into a person’s head, because the narrator’s thoughts are projected without any filtration whatsoever. Ideas are not expressed by one or two simple sentences, but are stacked meticulously in convoluted sentences, which make up almost the entire story.

     Finding an author’s real life blended into fiction is not surprising, but that link is especially pronounced in this collection of Jung’s stories. When the narrator hopes for no one to show up to his reading event and when he names a specific novelist and deems him lousy in “Dog Ear,” and when the narrator declares that he will translate only authors with a strong chance of ending their own lives in “Exile in X,” the reader superimposes author Jung Young Moon on the fictional narrator, and is surrounded by the overlapping magnetic fields of the stories.

     Arriving in a Thick Fog takes the reader on a discombobulating yet captivating stroll. Like “a person looking for a path that stretches forever in the wrong direction,” the reader traces the steps of one who is walking endlessly toward a false destination, through a maze of layered stories.

    About the author

    Jung Young Moon

     Born in Hamyang, Gyeongsang Province in South Korea in 1965, Jung Young Moon graduated from Seoul National University with a degree in psychology. He made his literary debut in 1996 with the publication of his novel A Man Who Barely Exists in “Writer’s World.” His works include short story collections A Chain of Dark Tales, An Improper Tale about the Devil Who Shelters Me, A Most Ambiguous Sunday, Dream, and Afternoon of a Faun; novellas Yawn and Murmurs; and novels Pale Soliloquy, Moonstruck Pierrot, Vaseline Buddha, and A Contrived World. He has received the Dong-in Literary Award, Daesan Literary Award, Han Moo-sook Literary Award, and the Dongseo Literary Award.

     With his characteristic sentence structures, which are lengthy and defy punctuation, and his distinct composition style, which focuses more on the rhythm and flow of words than on logic or meaningful events, Jung has attracted an enthusiastic fan base. He is also widely known in Korea for his translations of Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Édouard Levé’s Self Portrait, and other numerous works of literature.

     

    【Translated Works】

    English/ A Contrived World (어떤 작위의 세계)/ Dalkey Archive Press, 2016

    Japanese/ ある作為の世界 (어떤 작위의 세계)/ 書肆侃侃房, 2016

    English/ Vaseline Buddha (바셀린 붓다)/ Deep Vellum Publishing, 2016

    German/ Vaseline-Buddha (바셀린 붓다)/ Literaturverlag Droschl, 2015

    French/ PIERROT EN MAL DE LUNE (달에 홀린 광대)/ Decrescenzo éditeurs, 2013

    German/ Mondestrunken (달에 홀린 광대)/ Edition Delta, 2012

    English/ A Most Ambiguous Sunday, and Other Stories (더없이 어렴풋한 일요일)/ DALKEY ARCHIVE, 2013

    French/ Pour ne pas rater ma dernière seconde (검은 이야기 사슬)/ XYZ éditeur, 2007

    English/ A Chain of Dark Tales (검은 이야기 사슬)/ Stallion Press, 2011

    About the translators

    Mah Eunji and Jeffrey Karvonen are the recipients of three Literature Translation Institute of Korea Translation Grants and a Daesan Cultural Foundation Grant for Translation of a Korean Literary Work. Their translation of A Contrived World by Jung Young Moon was published in 2016 by Dalkey Archive Press.

    The attraction of Jung Young Moon’s Arriving in a Thick Fog to an English-speaking audience is both obvious and surprising. In British and American literature, there exists a rich tradition of absurdism and stream of conscience writing. Jung Young Moon explicitly cites such beloved authors as Samuel Beckett and Richard Brautigan as influences. While the perennial thirst for the genre makes his work easy to engage, there is something truly refreshing in Jung’s writing that captivates the reader. Jung Young Moon approaches each and every subject with a radical non-judgmentalism that is contagious and expanding.

    Jung is a champion of minutia. No object or occurrence is inconsequential. He eschews elaborate plots and grand scenes in favor of thoughtful treatments of the essential yet overlooked happenings of everyday life, not in an attempt to elevate them, but because he understands and accepts that the world is composed of mundane things. He affords the reader an opportunity to reflect on and appreciate reality in all of its triviality.

    In his portrayal of people, too, Jung is truly egalitarian. He grants his characters considerable grace and magnanimity. He is fascinated by everyone he knows, the strangers he encounters, and the personae he invents. Each character’s story is as interesting and worthy as his own. Perhaps, Jung’s most radical show of acceptance is to himself. He recognizes that he is the sum total of his thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Even when his thoughts take him to dark places or center on his own worst traits, he refuses to reign them in.

    Ideas are the true protagonists of Jung’s writing, and the clearest example of his non-judgmentalism. Showing no preference for reality or fantasy, Jung does not attempt to steer or corral his thoughts. He lets them range, and once they arrive at their logical destinations, he often turns them around and examines the myriad paths that they might have taken, enumerating the illogical conclusions that can be derived from the simplest of premises or observations.

    At some point the reader realizes that he has been on the ride much longer than expected. Like a rider disembarking a roller coaster, the reader sets down Jung Young Moon’s work only to discover that he is still in motion. Something trivial holds his interest for a moment longer. His mind lingers on a passing thought. He finds himself re-examining the world from a multitude of perspectives, each valid. Jung accepts the role of the negligent brakeman, liberating the reader from the habitual, exhausting task of controlling, leaving him grinning and slightly woozy long after the ride has ended.

Translated Books (13)

News from Abroad (20)