About My Daughter
July 16, 2019 2:15 PM   Subscribe

I almost blurt out that my daughter fills her heavy bags with books and printouts filled with bizarre words, setting off across the country like an itinerant salesman. That she's a pitiful girl who eats a meal in her tiny car after class, takes a cramped nap, and comes back home to immerse herself in books and writing again until she falls asleep. These unspoken words pound me in the chest like an assault. And now here she was, paying me a rent that was more of a bribe, having barged in with some strange girl and shaming her parents. The words are about to leak out of my mouth.

From 딸에 대하여 ("About My Daughter") by 김혜진 (Hyejin Kim). Translated by Anton Hur.

Related: Queer Literature: The Life Source of Korea's Here and Now by Yang Kyung-eon.
posted by smcg (15 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. Thanks, OP!
posted by Bella Donna at 2:50 PM on July 16, 2019

posted by MiraK at 4:25 PM on July 16, 2019

This was really beautiful and sad.
posted by schroedinger at 4:26 PM on July 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Ooh, this is lovely prose and painful material. I can't find any information online about when this book will be released for English readers-- does anyone else happen to know?
posted by devrim at 5:45 PM on July 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I kept getting sadder and sadder but I couldn't stop reading.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:49 PM on July 16, 2019 [12 favorites]

This was the last thing I read as my workday wound down, and it left me in a daze. Spectacular excerpt and translation, thank you for posting it. I too immediately looked for an English translation of the book.
posted by spbb at 6:11 PM on July 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I had a Korean guy couchsurf with me once for a couple of weeks. We got along so it ended up turning into three months. We were chatting one night about cultural differences and he gave an example: ‘none of my friends are gay. I don’t know any gay people’ and I was like uhhhh yeah you probably do.

This was a good piece.
posted by um at 7:53 PM on July 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I also went looking for the book. It looks like it could be a good one, if a hard read.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:02 PM on July 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Beautifully written. I want more.
posted by samthemander at 9:00 PM on July 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I loved this difficult piece.

I was at dinner tonight with someone I didn’t know who used to live in Seoul and was speaking about the enormous generation gap that exists there between older people who may still remember a unified Korea and younger people who obviously don’t. It felt serendipitous to have that conversation with this story still on my mind.
posted by eirias at 9:14 PM on July 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

ah this was so good -
It is the first link I've ever emailed to my mother. I'm so sad .
posted by goneill at 7:13 AM on July 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah this one is gonna live in me for a while.
posted by nikaspark at 7:20 AM on July 17, 2019

That was claustrophobic and terribly sad and I'm glad I read it.
posted by mittens at 11:07 AM on July 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Translator Anton Hur's website and Twitter profile.

Hur's thread about "10x translators" is, uh, amazing.
posted by shenderson at 11:38 AM on July 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Here's another recent piece by Anton Hur: Korean Literature Is Stepping Out
Queer rights in Korea has taken a battering in recent years: we have a homophobic president, witch hunts against gay soldiers (military service is compulsory in Korea; you want us to serve in the military and go to jail? Make up your goddamn minds!), and Christian fanatics are coming down strong—and violently—against queer pride all over the peninsula.

But we are fighting back. We have always been fighting back, but there has been something different in the air these past couple of years: the out authors, their books that suddenly seem to be doing quite well, and the domestic and international response, nay, demand for their work is mounting by the day.
These translations don't happen unless somebody pays for them. So be sure to let your friendly neighborhood publisher know that you are eagerly awaiting the chance to buy Hur's translation of About My Daughter!
posted by shenderson at 12:02 PM on July 17, 2019 [5 favorites]

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