Yi Mun-yol short story in The New Yorker, a first!

Illustration by Jaime Hernandez

Yi Mun-yol’s short story “An Anonymous Island,” as translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl, is in this week’s New Yorker, the first Korean prose fiction piece to appear in the magazine.

Finally!, says I.

As reported in the Donga Ilbo (Korean only), this is not the first appearance of Korean literature in the magazine — Ko Un’s “Four Poems” was (were?) in the September 25, 2006 issue, translated by Brother Anthony, Young-moo Kim, and Gary Gach (sorry, the link can only be accessed by New Yorker subscribers).  I would also somewhat snarkily point out that the the line in the Donga article that “The New Yorker only introduces about one new foreign author a year” is pretty misleading, as there are many, many foreign authors represented in the magazine in any given year. Haruki Murakami and Orhan Pamuk alone tip that scale with their contributions. This is an achievement, of course, but let’s not go overboard.  Or I don’t know, let’s.

Nevertheless, huzzah! A Korean short story has finally made it in. “An Anonymous Island” (<<익명의 섬>>) was originally published in the journal World Literature (Segye ui Munhak) in 1982.  Ah, here’s English language coverage from the Korea Herald with plot summary, etc., which I’m terrible at. I never got A’s on book reports either. Strange that, considering what I do.  But enough about me… let’s read the story and bask in the dark days of the 80s!


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