Author: Wan-seo Park
Publisher: Hyundae Munhak
Hardcover | 268 pages | 223*152mm
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|>>>This book is written in Korean.|
About This Book
Park Wan-seo's reflections on 40 years of writing
Revered novelist Park Wan-seo, who is seeing the 40th anniversary of her debut on the literary scene this year, seems more eager to reflect on her writing career and personal life rather than celebrate the occasion.
In "The Road Not Taken Is More Beautiful," the 79-year-old offers her short essays written over the past four years that constitute her personal experiences and thought-provoking issues through her poignant eyes with a care for society.
Born in 1931 in Gaepung-gun, Gyeonggi Province now in North Korea, the author experienced the Korean War (1950-53) and was separated from her mother and brother during it.
But she takes her memories of the war as her fictional inspirations in her numerous works.
"I think if I had no experience of the war, I might have not become a novelist, because a lot of stories related to the war have inspired my work and are likely to do in my future works," she writes.
Park often talks about the healing power and condolence of novels that can be shared by writers and readers alike as the main virtue of the genre.
"I admit I was salvaged by writing novels and I am proud of being a novelist myself. But I sometimes feel empty saying that because I seem to bluff it too much," she says.
Her soul-searching captures her deep sense of identity to overcome trauma marked by her personal history and the times as well. She has been caught in the memory from the wartime experiences and her family tragedy. Park lost her husband and son back to back in 1988, which left a deep scar in her life and deeply affected her later works.
Observations on life and nature are melted in her realistic portrayal which shows her idyllic life in her house in a small village, Guri, Gyeonggi Province, where she moved 12 years ago from Seoul.
The author discovered an everyday awe of plants, living creatures and soil in her small garden in front of her house. She reaps the pleasures of laboring in her garden, and takes comfort and peace from the soil.
"Lying on the grass, I feel a tiny movement deep under the soft and comfortable soil. Does this kind of vitality that can be made by the living creatures come from the soil or seed? I donít think so. The soil and seed cannot be separable. The soil that embraces the seed feels soft and warm. If my body is laid to the soil, I donít fear even death," she writes.
She notes that writing saves her from the temptation of withdrawing from society and keeps interested in and feel an affection for the world she lives in. "I am just an ordinary old person who feels horrible when I hear I look old and feels happy all day long when I hear I look young. But I want to act my age when it comes to writing," she says.
Park also points out the dilapidation of humanity due to an economy-oriented and materialistic social atmosphere. Through such incidents as the destruction of Sungnyemun, National Treasure No. 1 by arson and the sinking of the Cheonan warship, she labels them "absence of justice" and "coward pacifism" as a witness of modern Korean history.
The book is divided into three parts -- "Underline of My Life," "Paths of Books" and "For Yearnings." In particular, she writes tributes to the deceased such as Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-whan, author Park Kyung-ni and painter Park Soo-geun.
Ahead of becoming an octogenarian next year, the author says she wants to write as long as she can. "As I get older, I cannot write as fast as I did in the past but now I write more carefully to leave a good sentence," she says.
The author began her writing career belatedly at the age of 40 in 1970 after getting married. Parkís early works dealt with the tragedy of families separated by the Korean War and the haunting pain for its survivors demonstrated in "The Naked Tree," "Warm Was the Winter that Year" and "Who Ate Up All the Shinga."
Her works turned to families and feminine issues in a patriarchal society in line with social and political landscapes through such works as "The Dreaming Incubator," "Bad Luck in the City," "Swaying Afternoons," "Are You Still Dreaming?" in the late 1980s.
She briefly stopped writing after the shock of the sudden deaths of her husband and son, and began releasing novels based on biographic tales in the 1990s, focusing on contemplatively looking at life away from the haunting trauma of the war.
Her oeuvre shines through eloquent words, combining realistic and sophisticated observations in human beings. She not only vividly portrays reality but also brings humor and attachment to life with delicate psychological descriptions.
By Chung Ah-young
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