Whale: Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize

Product Details
$22.00  $20.46
Archipelago Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 7.4 X 1.1 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author
Myeong-kwan Cheon is a South Korean novelist and screenwriter. Upon publication of his first story, "Frankand I" (2003), he received the prestigious Munhakdongne New Writer Award. His debut novel, The Whale, published the following year, won him the 10th Munhakdongne Novel Award. His novels have been translated into Chinese, English, French, Thai, Russian, and Vietnamese.

Chi-Young Kim is a literary translator and editor based in Los Angeles. A recipient of the Man Asian Literary Prize for her work on Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin (2011), she has translated over a dozen books, including works by Ae-ran Kim, You-jeong Jeong, and Young-ha Kim, among others.
"Told in an omniscient and playful narrative voice, smoothly translated by Chi-Young Kim, this is a distinctly Korean take on Great Expectations, a tale of aspiration and folly punctuated with artisanal bricks and dried fish . . . an affecting theme emerges about the sins of mothers, while philosophical notions broach the comic . . . and the profound . . . The novel succeeds thanks to its multi-sensual atmosphere of strangeness and a conflicted protagonist who simply refuses to accept the mundane."
--Christian House, Financial Times

"A novel that seduces."
--JoongAng Ilbo

"A peerless work devoted to telling a powerful story and lauded for expanding Korean literature into new dimensions."
--The Hankyoreh

"[Whale] redefines what fiction can be."
--The Kyunghyang Sinmun

"Whale overflows with freshness. That's what makes it special."

"There has never been a novel like this in Korean literature . . . A novel that's more like reading out loud than reading quietly to oneself; its structure is like that of a folktale. You can feel the oral tradition in the rhythm of the sentences."
--Lee Dong-jin

A spry, cunning work of invigorated tale-telling. Cheon Myeong-kwan harnesses the ferociously erratic flow of shared narratives, embracing their natural disposition toward salacious detail at every turn. Whale is a billowing, boundless novel.
--Justin Walls, Bookshop.org

"Whale gives new meaning to the generation-spanning epic. Cheon expertly inserts metafictional jousts into his stirring prose, sardonically toying with our need for narrative even as he explores his characters' lives with heartfelt urgency. Wonderfully translated by Kim, Whale is an intricate work of art with unexpected riches."
--YZ Chin, author of Edge Case

"Whale is a rollercoaster adventure through Korean history and culture, a magical and grotesque epic . . . The plot twists and turns and hurtles along in a way that makes you pleasantly dizzy; the imagery and language in the book are also so rich, with the innocence and darkness of a fairy-tale combined with a playful sense of irony. The translator Chi-Young Kim has done an amazing job, the translation is so dynamic and full of life."
--The International Booker Prize 2023 judges

"Pitched in tone somewhere between Katherine Dunn's Geek Love and Salman Rushdie's Shame, Whale is both a surreal story of a haunted (literally and metaphorically) family and a bizarre look at one nation's history. Blending betrayals worthy of film noir with harrowing stories of corruption and abuses of power, Whale shifts wildly in tone but is never less than compelling."
--Tobias Carroll, Words Without Borders

"A multi-generational story detailing the lives of three women--grandmother, mother, and daughter--from Korea's lowest social class, demonstrating resilience, cleverness, and loyalty in the name of survival in a poor, rural, and heavily patriarchal society that has little but contempt for females . . . Imbued with a sense of the mythical and archetypal . . . the novel's actors seem as fatally flawed as any lead character in a play by Aeschylus."
--Tom Bowden, The Book Beat