Author: Ji-young Gong
256 pages | 210*150mm
|Important! Please read before you order!|
|>>>This book is written in Korean.|
About This Book
"Feather" Portrays Joy of Trivial Routines
Celebrated author Gong Ji-young claimed that her essays would be as "light" as a feather, in a departure from her previous works that touched on heavy social themes. The essays, in fact, are truly fun and interesting.
Gong's new book, "Light as a Feather," was compiled from her essay series posted last year in the Hankyoreh, a local daily.
The 46-year-old writer, who was an ardent student activist in the 1980s, is a best-selling author who peaked in the 1990s through her candid and sensible writing style in such novels as "Go It Alone Like the Rhinoceros Horn" and "Mackerel."
Gong is often regarded as a feminist writer for mostly dealing with the conflicts and complexities women face in male-oriented societies. In reality, she always has to fight with people seeing her as a divorcee and single mother ahead of her authorship.
Nevertheless, in the new book, Gong tries to shed light on her pleasant daily life, revolving on trivial happenings around her friends, family and fans.
She shows insight to take note of the little things that make up common daily life.
"As I get old, I realize the big things I used to be obsessed with in my youth are actually experienced through very trivial and small things. For example, we can feel the high atmospheric pressure only through sunlight and light winds, while feeling the low atmospheric pressure only through snow, fog and clouds. But we never say we are walking on the low atmospheric pressure or the high atmospheric pressure. … So I want to talk about the petty things such as grass leaves, a persimmon tree, a radio program, side dishes and taxes, which are offshoots of gigantic things such as history, the earth, ecology and politics," she said.
Gong introduces various episodes of her friends, who revitalize her in hard times. A friend who is living in Mt. Jiri allows her or anybody who needs a rest in a remote rustic house to stay. She also recalls staying in Gangwon Province and the locals who have the warm-hearted minds she has never encountered in Seoul.
The author shared an episode of being mesmerized by China pink flowers in a jar at a cafe but then beginning to doubt whether the flowers were real. She picked one and crumpled it; the flower stained her fingers blue and purple.
After the "horrible experience" of killing a living creature, she discovered the difference between real and fake without touching.
Light as a Feather
"The most distinguished difference between living and dead things is that the former has useless parts. So to speak, if it's a flowerpot, it has some leaves turning yellow and withering up. But the fake one looks perfect and fresh … Life is like that. As we are alive, we have a lot of problems and flaws," she said.
The writer also reveals aspects of her private life, particularly feelings from after her divorce. She says that she is often asked if she's hurt by malicious comments on the Internet.
Gong actually has a lot of fans, as well as detractors who continuously attack her concerning her private life. At first, she felt hurt, but she says she has learned to deal with it like training a muscle, which adjusts and gets stronger with exercise. "One of my closest friends broke up. They lived like a married couple for nine years … But she left him as he cheated on her a month ago. I asked her why she told me so late. She said because she felt ashamed. Ashamed…" Gong says.
Gong wonders why people have to suffer feelings of shame even if she strongly believed it's not their fault. But she confesses she feels the same way. The most difficult part of her unhappiness while experiencing divorce was the feeling of shame even when she strongly believed it wasn't her fault. But somebody told her, "You shouldn't feel that way just for being divorced. It couldn't be helped. But you should feel ashamed if you mess up your writing."
The author also discusses her children, who leaped at her when she came home like "mosquitoes," she described. Gong, who had a petty quarrel with her eldest daughter over whether she would allow her to go to the candlelit vigil in Gwanghwamun in Seoul last year where riot police shot water cannons at beef demonstrators, recalls her parents, who tried to stop her from participating in student protests in the 1980s. She thought her parents were cowards at the time but now understands them, as she is now a mother.
As a single mother, Gong says she enjoys her own free time in major traditional holidays such as Chuseok _ Korean Thanksgiving and Seollal, lunar New Year. When she went to her ex-husband's home to celebrate the traditional holiday for the first time after their marriage, she cried in the kitchen, where only women were working. "It was my first time to feel gender discrimination and even a class divide … I still don't understand why we should serve food to men who don't labor at all and if my daughter would experience the same thing, I would feel greatly hurt," she said.
In a self-interview section, she confesses it was not easy to keep her writing light like a feather. "It was really hard for me to suppress from talking about the heavy issues and instead bring the light things, although a lot of hot issues such as U.S. beef imports and the canal project emerged right after I began writing."
Whether you are a fan of her or not, the essays are absolutely touching and pleasant, as the stories somewhat show her different emotional aspects as a writer and how she looks at her turbulent life and experiences, injecting humor and finding peace of mind.
--Chung Ah-young, www.koreatimes.co.kr
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