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나의 삼촌 브루스 리 (1, 2)

  • Author
  • Country
    Republic of Korea
  • Publisher
  • Published Year
    2012
  • Genre
    Literature - Korean literature - Contemporary fiction

Title/Author/Genre

  •  

    Title: My Uncle Bruce Lee (1, 2)

    Author: Cheon Myeong-kwan

    Genre: Fiction

     

    LTI Korea staff: Alex Baek (alex_b@klti.or.kr / +82-2-6919-7733)

Description

  • About the book

     

    From a rising South Korean literary star comes a vibrant novel of a young man’s search for identity, love, and the meaning of life amid the turbulent history of modern Korea.

     

    My Uncle Bruce Lee is a chronicle of a young man’s struggle for survival amongst the harsh realities of Korea’s modern history. In vivid and entertaining prose, acclaimed writer Cheon Myeong-kwan portrays the extraordinary lives of ordinary people as they unfold against the backdrop of South Korea’s breakneck economic growth from the 1970s through the 2000s.

     

    The story of uncle, as told by the young narrator Dong-gu, begins with memories of Bruce Lee, that unforgettable icon of the 1970s. For uncle, who was born the illegitimate child of grandfather, the patriarch of the Kwon family, Bruce Lee served as a beacon of hope in his marginalized and solitary life. But as if echoing his troubled origins, uncle’s life becomes a journey filled with hardship and turmoil. In My Uncle Bruce Lee, Cheon interweaves the story of one man’s tempestuous life as he strives to become more than a Bruce Lee wannabe, an imitation, with vivid portrayals of a nation undergoing the throes of the industrialization of the 1970s, the democratic struggle against the military dictatorship of the 1980s, and the rise of neo-capitalism of the 1990s.

     

    A novel that embraces life in all its cruel ironies, absurdities, and failures.

     

    By turns hilarious and wacky, poignant and heartfelt, My Uncle Bruce Lee demonstrates why Cheon has become a rising literary star in South Korea during the last decade. His compelling narrative, which shows the influence of cinema based on the author’s experience as a screenwriter, his playful use of generic conventions, his whimsical and animated sentences, and his ability to move between popular culture and thoughtful philosophical reflections with equal ease have made Cheon a favorite among critics and readers alike. Cheon’s fascinating and wonderfully sarcastic depictions of South Korean life are at once utterly familiar to his readers and delightfully shocking in their scathing satire of the customs, prejudices, crude ambition, and greed for power rampant in modern Korean society. 

     

    Perhaps what moved us was not ideology, but our complexes and desires.”  

     

    A story dedicated to the outsider and the underdog in all of us. 

     

    Cheon’s novels are peopled by self-conscious individuals wandering in the margins of life and society. Crushed by broken dreams, these pathetic, comic, and endearing characters nevertheless continue to long for salvation. Uncle’s quest for salvation leads him to his first and only true love, the actress Weon-jeong, despite his ultimate failure to follow in the ways of Bruce Lee and achieve glory. As his uncle’s alter ego, the narrator Dong-gu not only chronicles his uncle’s life; he also details the stories of the myriad of characters that come and go in the pages of My Uncle Bruce Lee. Oh-soon, the product of incest and the queen of homemade poison; Dochi, the gang member who dreams of becoming a legendary boss; Lady Ma, the Chinese immigrant and owner of a restaurant who hides her loneliness beneath a cantankerous exterior, the demonic guards in the Samcheong Concentration Camp, and the sex-crazed maniacs that have emerged out of the film industry’s collusion of capital and power…A sundry cast of villains and extras further enriches Cheon’s novel. 

     

    About the author

     

    Cheon Myeong-kwan was born in Yong-in, South Korea, in 1964. Prior to becoming a novelist, he worked as a screenwriter. His literary debut, the short story “Frank and I,” earned the Munhakdongnae New Writer Award (2003). His first novel, The Whale, received the Munhakdongnae Award for Best Novel in 2004.

     

    Cheon’s deft narrative skills and trademark sly humor make him stand out as a truly new voice in South Korean contemporary fiction, a literature that has thus far become more known in the West for its mournful pathos and introspective language. 

     

    Still, notwithstanding his reputation for challenging the boundaries of Korean novel-writing, Cheon stresses the influence of Korean literature of the 1970s and 80s on his work. His third novel, My Uncle Bruce Lee, pays homage to this tradition by portraying a panoply of characters from all walks of life, each of them bearing the burden of life in the midst of absurd reality. Through a mix of humor, irony, and compassion, Cheon’s novel reflects on the question of what it means to live in a world full of absurdities and uncertainties. 

     

    About the translators

     

    Susanna Soojung Lim is an associate professor of literature at the Robert Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, where she teaches Russian and world literature as well as Korean studies. Her scholarly work, China and Japan in the Russian Imagination, 1685-1922: To the Ends of the Orient, was published with Routledge in 2013. Her translations have appeared in Azalea: A Journal of Korean Literature and Culture. She is the creator of an audio podcast called “Susanna’s Korean Literature Podcast.”  

     

    Media Response/Awards Received

     

    The reason why Cheon Myeong-kwan is the premier storyteller of our times is because his stories seem to breathe and come alive in the pages of the book. My Uncle Bruce Lee is an epic that runs to nearly 800 pages, and yet the book had me hooked from the first page to the very last. 

    – Cine 21

     

    There are many views as to what the function of literature is. But for readers who believe that the value of a novel lies in the sheer power of its story, Cheon Myeong-kwan has once again delivered a narrative tour de force worthy of their expectations. 

    – Joseon Daily

     

    The countless stories that make up My Uncle Bruce Lee, so familiar to us from the experiences of our own lives, demonstrate once again Cheon’s gift for storytelling. In its seamless combination of the martial arts adventure novel, pure literature, and cinematic hyperbole, Cheon’s unique novel is in a league of its own. His characters, including uncle, the narrator “I,” Jong-tae, Weon-jeong, Dochi, and Knife, are unforgettable. Cheon’s depictions of these lives from the lower depths, together with his virtuoso narrative skills, make this novel a hard one to put down.   

    – Dong-A Daily

     

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