Matadero Madrid center for contemporary creation
Hwang Sok-yong in conversation with Xavi Ayén
Nobel laureates Kenzaburo Oé and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio both admire the literature of Hwang Sok-yong, who well may be Korea's most famous author. For decades, the author has drawn on modern Korean history and his own experiences as a labourer, a vagrant, a student activist, a Vietnam War veteran, a labour lawyer and a political dissident to inform his literary corpus, interweaving contemporary Korean social reality with fantastical elements borrowed from his country's oral tradition and legends: “East Asian stories create a kind of fantastic intranet between all the beings that exist in the world. Meaning that not only human beings exist in this world, but also nature and objects”. A work of extreme beauty and sensitivity in which the magical, the oneiric and reality are intertwined in total harmony.
A Nobel Prize nominee, Hwang Sok Yong (Changchun, 1943) can look back on a long career as a novelist. His work is framed within the realist Korean novel that emerged after the country's independence in 1945. His life experience as a Buddhist monk and the time he spent in jail have left their mark on his style, for example in such novels as At Dusk (Alianza Editorial, 2020) or Familiar Things (Alianza Editorial, 2017) while works such as Princess Bari (Alianza Editorial, 2015) or The Tale of Sim Chong (Alianza Editorial, 2012) are a clear example of the mixture of myth and reality that also characterises his fiction. Hwang Sok Yong has been honoured with the most important literary prizes in Korea - in addition to his international distinctions, such as the Émile Guimet Prize in 2018, or his nomination for the Man Booker International Prize. His work has been published in North and South Korea, Japan, China, France, Germany, Italy and the United States.
Xavi Ayen (Barcelona, 1969) is editor-in -chief of Culture at the La Vanguardia newspaper, for whom he has been writing since 1991. He is the author of books such as Those Boom Years (Aquellos años del boom) (RBA Libros, 2014) and Around the World in 80 Authors (La vuelta al mundo en 80 autores) (Libros de vanguardia, 2016). Together with photographer Kim Manresa, he has interviewed 27 Nobel laureates in Literature in their places of residence, a work that was displayed by the Swedish Academy in the 'Literary Rebellion' exhibition at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm. Together with the director Pau Subirós, he has created documentaries on Carmen Balcells and Jorge Herralde for the TVE programme Imprescindibles.
With the collaboration of Alianza Editorial, LTI Korea
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