I first noticed this news in an email update from Kokkiri at the excellent Subject Object Verb. Yi Mun-yol has had his story An Anonymous Island published in the New Yorker, which is certainly good news. Unfortunately, it is a subscription/pay by the story deal, so you’ll have to pay to read the thing.
This makes Yi Mun-yol the first Korean fiction writer to be published in the New Yorker.
The good news is that the New Yorker has also interviewed translator Heinz Insu Fenkl in an article that is open to the public and describes the story as:
is set in an isolated village in the mountains, where the narrator is taking up her first post as a teacher.
Fenkl is a brilliant interview subject, veering between detailed descriptions of the “physiognomy of names,” to larger issues including “themes of division, estrangement, and the search for connection,” themes common to Yi Mun-yol as well as much other literature from authors of his age.
Throw in a little biographical detail and you have a piece well worth reading.
Fenkl also mentions something I’ve been aware of for a bit, that he is about to publish a new version of Yi’s classic Meeting With My Brother, which had previously been published under the Jimoondang/KLTI imprimatur with the name An Appointment With my Brother and was reviewed on KTLIT here.
Even better, he is hard at work on a translation of Yi’s Hail to The Emperor, which he describes as:
a novel permeated with arcane knowledge like Hermann Hesse’s “Magister Ludi” with the tragic and epiphanic elements of “King Lear” and set in Korea and Manchuria with references to Taoism, Shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism