Familiar Things

Familiar Things

3.75 (69 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 

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Seoul. On the outskirts of South Korea's glittering metropolis is a place few people know about: a vast landfill site called Flower Island. Home to those driven from the city by poverty, is it here that 14-year-old Bugeye and his mother arrive, following his father's internment in a government `re-education camp'. Living in a shack and supporting himself by weeding recyclables out of the refuse, at first Bugeye's life on Flower Island is hard. But then one night he notices mysterious lights around the landfill. And when the ancient spirits that still inhabit the island's landscape reveal themselves to him, Bugeye's luck begins to change - but can it last? Vibrant and enchanting, Familiar Things depicts a society on the edge of dizzying economic and social change, and is a haunting reminder to us all to be careful of what we throw away.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 15mm | 229g
  • Scribe Publications
  • Carlton North, Australia
  • English
  • 1925228991
  • 9781925228991
  • 43,007

About Hwang Sok-Yong

Hwang Sok-yong was born in 1943 and is arguably Korea's most renowned author. In 1993, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for an unauthorized trip to the North to promote exchange between artists in North and South Korea. Five years later, he was released on a special pardon by the new president. The recipient of Korea's highest literary prizes and shortlisted for the Prix Femina Etranger, his novels and shorts stories are published in North and South Korea, Japan, China, France, Germany, and the United States. Previous novels include The Ancient Garden, The Story of Mister Han, The Guest, and The Shadow of Arms.show more

Review quote

`Reality, fiction and fantasy mix closely, giving his writing unparalleled power. Hwang Sok-yong's empathy for his heroes is always accompanied by a fierce rage against the powerful.' * Le Monde Diplomatique * `Hwang Sok-yong is an endearing author. For his perspective on people and things, for the instinctive modesty of his characters as well as his ability to "capture" - to return through fiction - the contemporary history of his country. Even more, to embody it.' * La Croix * `A great political book, a plea for a country under the boot of a general, a country embroiled in a fierce power struggle, where ideology has been devoured by productivity, where human beings are nothing more than bellies to be filled for the benefit of industrial producers ... Grandma Willow in her dementia rails, "You're despicable! Do you think you live alone here? You men may all disappear, nature will continue to exist!" Let's hope so!' * Critiques Libres * `Hwang Sok-yong is one of the most read Korean writers in his country, and best known abroad. An activist for democracy and reconciliation with the North, in his books he melds his political fights with the Korean cultural imagination.' * Le Monde * `In Familiar Things, the great Korean writer embraces the social realities of his country. It is the opposite of the economic miracle that he paints for us here. Beyond simple naturalism, Hwang Sok-yong mixes into the actual, the magic of a popular culture steeped in the spiritual.' * LivresHebdo * `While it invokes South Korean history, culture, mythology and folklore, this slim novel is unmistakably universal in its reach, contemporary in its appeal, and packs an emotional punch that reverberates long after reading.' * South China Morning Post * `Familiar Things is both tragic and heartrending.' * The Skinny * `Sora Kim-Russell's translation moves gracefully between gritty, whiffy realism and folk-tale spookiness.' * The Economist * `Familiar Things is a poignant novel that depicts decay and regeneration ... A sense of menace pervades the novel. But the relationship that develops between Bugeye and Baldspot, who he comes to adopt as his younger brother, is heartwarming.' * The Big Issue * `Hwang Sok-yong is one of South Korea's foremost writers, a powerful voice for society's marginalised, and Sora Kim-Russell's translations never falter.' -- Deborah Smith * translator of The Vegetarian * `Five stars ... Readers expecting this novel to develop into a savage take on Seoul slum life will be disappointed ... [Hwang Sok-Yong] wants to tell a different story altogether. Familiar Things turns out to be less about simple disposal than movement between different worlds ... resonant.' * The Daily Telegraph * `[A] vivid depiction of a city too quick to throw away both possessions and people.' * Financial Times * `A powerful examination of capitalism from one of South Korea's most acclaimed authors ... [Hwang] challenges us to look back and reevaluate the cost of modernisation, and see what and whom we have left behind.' * The Guardian *show more

Rating details

69 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 14% (10)
4 51% (35)
3 30% (21)
2 4% (3)
1 0% (0)
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