I suppose this is good news? One of the things that I have always argued would demonstrate the successful globalization of Korean literature was when it was used in ‘secondary cultural products.’ For instance, the horrible Last Samurai (Tom Cruise) was, well, horrible, but it demonstrated that certain Japanese literary/cultural tropes (samurai) had penetrated the US so deeply that they could be easily utilized by US writers and even star US actors.
Which is why the news that Toni Morrison is writing a novel with a connection to Korea, is good news. But does it have to use one of the only two things that are already cliche about Korea (N. Korean ‘evil’ and the Korean War)?
The works of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison go beyond thought-provoking to what could better be called thought-demanding, with their lush prose, deep themes and occasional touches of magic or mysticism. But that’s just what readers and critics appreciate about Morrison, who is one of America’s most treasured writers. Her next novel, Home, will be published by Knopf on May 8. It’s the story of a Korean War veteran who returns to small-town Georgia, disappointed in its racist culture and trying to help his emotionally unstable sister while still recovering from the physical and emotional aftereffects of war.
I like it, I just fear that it will re-inforce the weak but existing view of S. Korea, that it is nothing but a wasteland inhabited by villagers and N. Korean invaders.
It will be interesting to see, when Home publishes, how true that is, and how deeply Korea is presented, if as anything other than a convenient war in which to place the source of trauma for a character.