Wednesday, September 06, 2006

 

Writers from the Other Asia - Korean Literature

John Feffer has written a wonderful review of recent releases of Korean literature in translation for the Nation. It was an eye-opening read, introducing me to a literature with which I had very little familiarity.

You can read the whole piece starting here, or skip to the section on the poet Ko Un (the rest is on fiction - well worth it!), which includes this description of the poet's amazing project, Ten Thousand Lives:

During his varied life, Ko Un has been a youthful scalawag, Buddhist monk, drunkard, teacher, political activist, jailed dissident and, now, Nobel Prize contender. He has published more than 100 books of poetry and prose. But his greatest claim to fame is Maninbo, or Ten Thousand Lives, which he American poet Robert Haas has described as "one of the most extraordinary projects in contemporary literature." Ko Un conceived of this project holed up in a military prison with other prominent dissidents. He vowed to write a poem for every person he had ever known, from his closest relatives to historical figures he'd only met in books. Green Integer has published a one-volume selection of this vast work for the first time in English, translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé, Young-moo Kim and Gary Gach.

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