the accusation, introduction.


hello,  hello!

so!  we are going to head into a fairly ambitious project over the next few weeks!

last month, it was announced that grove press had acquired the US rights for bandi's the accusation, the first book written by a north korean (still residing in north korea) to be published.  it was smuggled out of the country and published in south korea in summer 2014 (this shows how much i keep up-to-date with korean publishing), and the accusation is slated to be published in the US (by grove) and the UK (by serpent's tail) in spring 2017.

no one ever said i was a patient person, and spring 2017 is a long time away.  it also seems kind of dumb to sit around and wait for a translation when i can actually read (and want to read) korean (albeit slowly and laboriously), and, seeing as i had a lot of fun blogging about george eliot's middlemarch as i was reading it (and find it motivating to keep reading), i thought that i would read the accusation and blog about it!  :D  part of it is an accountability thing, part of it is that i think this is an important book to read and talk about and spread awareness about, and part of it is that i enjoy sharing things on this blog but realize that i don't utilize this space well (i'm still figuring out how to go about doing monthly round-ups, especially now that i've started using instagram to post short reviews).

so!  the accusation!  which, okay, seems like a brilliant idea now, might seem less so in two weeks when i'm drowning in korean ... but, hey, let's give it a go!

before we get started, here are a few thoughts going in!

it's not like i'm walking into this book with expectations or wants that deviate from the expectations and wants i demand from any other book.  i do go into it curious, looking for something that's genuine and not sensational or sentimental, something that shows us what it is to be a person, a human being, in the world.  i'm looking for truth, and i don't mean this in a way that implies that i'm looking for something that seems non-fictional or autobiographical but simply in the way that i expect all fiction to be truthful, to hold to integrity and commitment to authentic story-telling, to getting to the heart, not the politics.  

i'm also curious about language -- i am not an academic authority on the korean language and don't know as much about korean dialects as i wish i did; i can obviously distinguish between them; but i can't pinpoint most of them geographically or tell you about specific differences or phrasings that make them unique.  that said, i have heard a little of the pyongyang dialect, and i'm curious about what korean sounds like, reads like, when it hasn't modernized or globalized the way (or to the extent) that korean from the south has.

these are just theories, though, thoughts i've been mulling over while waiting for this book to arrive.  i could turn out to be very wrong.  that would be fun, too.

also, i feel like i should state that i'm not interested in who bandi is; for one, i think that kind of curiosity very much holds someone's life in the balance; and i think there's a selfish recklessness in a desire to satiate that kind of curiosity.  i'm not going to be entertaining questions or thoughts about who bandi is or whether or not we should be doubting the background of the accusation -- i'm taking it at face value as a book that was written by a north korean and smuggled out of the country.

the accusation is a collection of short stories, so my original plan was to read a story a week and, thus, post about a story a week.  however, my reading in korean looks something like this because i'm actually stopping to look up words:


you can guess how laborious a process this is.

this means there will be new posts on fridays or saturdays, but they probably won't line up cleanly with stories.  which is fine, as long as we make slow but steady progress on this!

huzzah!  let's do this!  go go go!