The other day, while discussing “Asian American Lit, Korean Lit: Problems of Translation and Process” I half-jokingly said “Lord knows, translators probably don’t want to have to work on the 10th translation in 60 years of Buckwheat Season.
Why only a half-joke? Because this story seems to pop up in every third compilation of Korean fiction even though I have yet to find an English-speaking reader who found it particularly compelling. It’s kind of a shaggy dog tale, in the sense that it has a pretty clear ending it never quite reaches. It also depends on a fondness for natural cycles that might not be all that appealing to the west and its tale (and pace) are pretty bucolic.
Imagine my suprise when, at the Foreigner’s Book Store in Itaewon, I came across a slim volume entirely dedicated to it, although this time it is called “When Buckwheat Flowers Bloom,” which is a translation of the title I don’t think I’ve seen before. But this book translates Buckwheat into English, French, Spanish, Chinese (two different dialects) and rounds off with Buckwheat in the original Hangul.
Can we stop now?