Nominated by:

Literature Translation Institute of Korea Library, Seoul, South Korea

Publisher of nominated edition:

Tilted Axis Press, UK

The Impossible Fairytale

Han Yujoo      

Translated from the Korean by Janet Hong

The Impossible Fairytale tells the story of the nameless ‘Child’, who struggles to make a mark on the world, and her classmate Mia, whose spoiled life is everything the Child’s is not. At school, adults are nearly invisible, and the society the children create on their own is marked by soul-crushing hierarchies and an underlying menace.

Then, one day after hours, the Child sneaks into the classroom to add ominous sentences to her classmates’ notebooks, setting in motion a series of cataclysmic events.

About the author

Han Yujoo was born in Seoul in 1982, studied German literature at Hongik University, obtained a master’s degree in aesthetics from the prestigious Seoul National University, and is currently working toward another master’s degree in comparative literature from Seoul National University. She is also a noted translator, whose works include translations of Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table, and Geoff Dyer’s But Beautiful and The Ongoing Moment, among others, into Korean. In addition, she runs her own micro-press, Oulipo Press, focusing on experimental fiction.

About the translator

Janet Hong is a writer and translator living in Vancouver, Canada. Her work has appeared in Brick: A Literary Journal, Lit Hub, Asia Literary Review, Words Without Borders, Two Lines, and the Korea Times, and she received PEN American Center’s PEN/Heim Translation Fund for her translation of The Impossible Fairytale.

(from publisher)

Librarian’s comments

The Impossible Fairy Tale is a profoundly thought-provoking debut, with its universally philosophical themes addressing the questions of reason and being. It is breathtakingly accomplished, playing with language and meaning to create a pacey, haunting narrative. Though it is a debut, it written and published after an apprenticeship of three published collections of short stories, which include Ms. Han’s astonishing short story, Black and White Photographer, published in spring 2012 in the Asia Literary Review and which hinted at her promise.

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