Friend: A Novel from North Korea

(Author) (Translator)
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Product Details
Columbia University Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.4 X 0.7 inches | 0.65 pounds
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About the Author
Paek Nam-nyong is one of the most renowned writers in North Korea today. He was born in 1949 in Hamhŭng and worked in a steel factory for many years before enrolling at Kim Il Sung University. He worked in the Writer's Union and later joined the elite group of writers called April 15th Literary Production Unit. Immanuel Kim is Korea Foundation and Kim-Renaud Associate Professor of Korean Literature and Culture Studies at George Washington University. He is the author of Rewriting Revolution: Women, Sexuality, and Memory in North Korean Fiction (2018).
A layered story of family obligations stretched to breaking point . . . Reading Friend is like sifting through a black box for clues into a sealed culture.--Yoojin Grace Wuertz "Times Literary Supplement "
Paek's focus on individuals and family, and his willingness to acknowledge failings, make for a novel that manages to be engaging, and even quite moving, even beyond its context.--M.A. Orthofer "The Complete Review "
The publication of Immanuel Kim's painstaking translation of Paek Nam-nyong's Friend is a significant event. It promises to shift the focus away from those texts that simply confirm our preconceived notions about the DPRK toward a subtler and more informed consideration of literary practices there.--Travis Workman, University of Minnesota
Paek weaves themes of greed, corruption, and self-sacrifice into a subtle, restrained narrative . . . A rare glimpse into an insular world.--Kirkus Reviews
Friend depicts daily life in North Korean society. The psychology of human relationships evoked in this fascinating novel shows that North Koreans, far from being brainwashed robots, are as fragile as people everywhere--that they too simply want to be happy together, and suffer intensely when things go wrong.--Brother Anthony, Sogang University
With still so little known about the North Korean people beyond mostly tortuous escapee narratives, Kim enables a rare, welcome glimpse into 'a messy world of human emotions and relationships that is at once entirely alien and eerily familiar.'--Booklist, Starred Review
Friend offers an astute psychological exploration of marriage, the work that goes into such a partnership, and the many ways it could fail us.--Eric Nguyen "Minneapolis Star Tribune "
Friend offers a fascinating glimpse into the realities of North Korean life. It reminds us that the people of that country may face hardships, but they also experience the same domestic challenges that afflict humans everywhere.--Clifford Garstang "New York Journal of Books "