In his review of Kang Sok-kyong’s The Valley Nearby (Found over at London Korea Links) Philip Gowman says:
The synopsis on the back of the book suggests a more action-packed plot than is the case
and quotes the synopsis:
Living in the country, Yun-hee is engaged in a solitary struggle. Her two worlds, that of a rural housewife and that of an advocate for equality, are at odds with each other. As her artistic, alcoholic husband increasingly cuts himself off from the world, Yun-hee must find a balance between what is and what could be.
I dunno, that first sentence kind of started the ennui settling in for me. 😉
Gowman seems to be gingerlly dancing around the fact that not so very much happens in the book. The following passage really seems to outline the small-stakes prosaic nature of the book.
In the countryside, though, concerns centre more around how many of Hee-jo’s delicate punchong ware pots will survive the next firing of the kiln. Can the increased costs of firing the kiln be passed on to the purchasers of Hee-jo’s beautiful objects? Should he cash in an make a high-class range of tableware, or should he stay true to his life as an artist? Meanwhile, his well-educated, articulate wife tries to live close to the land, does her best for her family and tries to hold relationships together. A slight feeling of suspicion towards these former city-dwellers lingers among the local inhabitants.
Heavens forfend that the “slight feeling of supsicion” should blow up into an unquenchable fire-storm of … of… of.. “more than just a slight feeling of suspicion!” After all, feelings (as well as ceramics) might get hurt.
This might just be a pass for me.