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The House of Twilight by Yun Heung-Gil

The House of Twilight

by Yun Heung-Gil, Heung-gil Yun

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This is a very nice collection of short stories from a Korean writer who is apparently well known in Korea and Japan, but largely untranslated into English. It was published by Readers International, a publisher that in the 1980s translated many writers well-known in their own languages but unknown in English. The first few Readers International books I read were fairly awful, but they are going up in my estimation.
The stories in The House of Twilight are set either during the Korean war (with the narrator being a child, as Yun was at this time), or in its aftermath. They illustrate the confusions of political civil war. Communist sympathisers are portrayed as being childish and self-indulgent, even as the capitalist South was evolving into an increasingly totalitarian police state. The stories focus on human interactions in domestic settings, such as families engaged in tense squabbles underpinned by political differences, or the struggles of individuals labelled as outsiders by the government. It is this focus that gives them their strength, allowing for the development of believable, sympathetic and flawed characters in relatively short spaces. I could feel Yun’s frustration with human stupidity oozing from the pages, yet he is sympathetic rather than derisory. The blurb compares him to Dickens (and one of his characters compares himself to the writer), which should give some idea about the thrust of his observations of his society. Unfortunately Yun still appears to have made little impact in the English-speaking world, and based on this collection he deserves better. If you get a chance to read it, I would really recommend you take it.
  GlebtheDancer | Nov 1, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yun Heung-Gilprimary authorall editionscalculated
Yun, Heung-gilmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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