The Next Review of to 10 Asia

I’m still troubled by the short format. 😉

Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

A romantic novel with brains (delicious human brains!), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies begins, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more.” With this truism established, author Seth Grahame-Smith is off, updating Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to a post-apocalyptic zombie-strewn landscape. This idea works brilliantly, and tension between the delicate novel of manners and the horrorshow zombies is played for broad comic effect, as in:

“The creature advanced, and Elizabeth landed a devastating chop … The limbs broke off, and the unmentionable fell to the ground . . . Elizabeth found herself … within view of the house … face glowing with the warmth of exercise.”

Published by the appropriately named, Quirk Publishing, Pride, Prejudice and Zombies is also available for kindle download from Shamble out and pick this one up!
(320 pages, 15,160₩)

150 words

Cullen Thomas

Brother One Cell is a cautionary tale with an inspirational conclusion. Cullen Thomas illegally teaches English in Korea, and on vacation in Thailand mails hashish to Seoul. This scheme unravels and he is sentenced to 3.5 years imprisonment during which time he overcomes personal demons and comes to accept personal responsibility for his own fate.

Cullen’s flat, observational writing style is appropriate when he describes his entry into the Korean penal/judicial system, which appears largely opaque to him: What he does see tends to be depressing. Cullen’s descriptions of the psychic price of his double isolation (prisoner and foreigner) and powerlessness are matched with his growing appreciation of small pleasures, such as his joy at being given simple jobs.

A novel of personal growth in difficult circumstances, Brother One Cell also gives a peek into a side of Korean culture even expatriates rarely (thankfully) see.
(347 pages, 19,500₩)

150 words

By Munyol Yi

Our Twisted Hero is a retrospective meditation on power by narrator Pyongt’ae Han who was weak and bullied in elementary school. The bully, Sokdae Om, rules with an iron fist and keeps nearly perfect order. Han is not used to this arbitrary power, and rebels. For this, he is ostracized: Om has created an all-powerful cult of personality. Han not only works his way back into Om’s good graces, but even comes to perversely admire him. When Om’s reign crashes down at the hands of even greater power other students turn against Om, with only Han refusing to completely repudiate him.

Readers with knowledge of post-war Korean politics will particularly enjoy this work. Although it is simple and brief, it also clearly allegorizes political issues (dictatorship, the role of intellectuals, suppression of revolt) that preceded and surrounded its original date of publication in 1987.
(119 pages, 7,000₩)