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Trade Report
Vol.9 Autumn 2010 (Page 6-1)
The No. 1 Summer Read in France
by Richard Hong
On July 1, 2010, Le Monde, the French newspaper, published a list of 20 books to take on vacation, under the title, “Ten Books that Resonate in Our Hearts.” The list featured 10 fiction and 10 nonfiction titles. Number one on the fiction list, surprisingly, was Shim Cheong, the novel, by Hwang Sok-yong. The fate of Shim Cheong in the 19th century is taken up in the whirl of history, in which one can’t see an inch ahead, and in the ruthless desires of men. In this odyssey of pleasure, bought and sold with money, Ulysses is an immigrant, and a woman. The epic poem by Hwang reaffirms that he is, beyond doubt, a master writer. Shim Cheong, translated by Choi Mikyung and Jean-Noël Juttet with a grant
from the Korea Literature Translation Institute in 2006, was published in January 2010 through Zulma, a French publisher, and has sold three printings and 8,000 copies as of the end of June.
      Works by Hwang are especially popular in France. The Old Garden was selected as “book of the year” by Le Monde in 2006, and Hesperus was serialized on the Internet in April 2009, heralded by Le Monde as “a work by a major Korean writer, read by two million readers online.” In Europe, books are published in hardcover, then in paperback, depending on reader response. In the case of Hwang’s works, contracts have been signed with Seuil, a leading French publisher, for paperback publication of A Chronology of Mr. Han, The Road to Sampo, and Shim Cheong. Hwang’s works have been published in several languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese, and works including A Chronology of Mr. Han, The Road to Sampo, The Shadow of Arms, The Old Garden, The Guest, and Shim Cheong have been brought to French readers through Zulma.