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Publishing Trends
Vol.13 Autumn 2011 (Page 12-1)
< Fiction >
  My Palpitating Life
by Choi Jae-bong

My Palpitating Life
Kim Ae-ran, Changbi Publishers, Inc.
2011, 354p, ISBN 9788936433871
  Kim Ae-ran is well-known among Korean writers born in the 1980s. She made a high-profile debut by winning the first Daesan Literary Awards for College Students in 2002, and published two short story collections amid growing expectations about her in Korean literary circles.
      For her age, Kim received plenty of literary awards and her short stories were also well received, proving that there was a reason for high hopes regarding her literary talent. But she faced a challenge, or rite of passage that she could not avoid—her first novel. So many talented writers gain fame in the short story genre but, strangely enough, fail to produce quality work in the genre of novels. In other words, a good short story writer is not necessarily a good novelist. All in all, Kim’s novel, My Palpitating Life, previously serialized in a literary magazine, meets public expectations.
      In the novel, the first person narrator is a 17-year-old boy
named Han A-reum who suffers from progeria. Due to his condition, he looks like an 80-year-old man. As he races through life at a relentless speed, his life is also marching toward death. His parents, Han Dae-su and Choi Mi-ra, became parents when they were just 17-years-old. The problem is that Dae-su and Mi-ra seem to be stuck at the mental age of 17.
      My Palpitating Life generates a stream of ironic moments by comparing and contrasting A-reum’s adult-like optimism and his not-so-mature parents. The precocious boy writes up a story about his birth and shows up at a television program to raise funds for treating his disease. A 17-year-old girl, who happens to watch the broadcast, starts exchanging letters with A-reum, leading to budding affection, only to be blindsided by a snag. Readers are bound to be controlled by Kim’s skillful writing. The novel is a testimony that Kim, a precocious literary genius, has emerged as a leading writer.