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Title/Author/Genre

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    Title: Sweet City of Mine

    Author: Jeong Yi Hyun

    Genre: Fiction

     

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

Description

  • About the book

     

    People use the words “norm” and “ordinary” without hesitation. “Being ordinary,” however, may be the most difficult mission in life. The notion of ordinariness may be a common fantasy in our minds. How would you feel is someone asked you to pick the most ordinary person around you? You’d probably be at a loss. Everyone is unique their own way. Jeong I-hyeon, the author, wages a war against this fantasy of ordinariness. Sweet City of Mine is a book about the work life and romance of a single woman who seems the epitome of ordinary in Korea.

     

    O Eunsu is thirty-one years old, and has been working for an editing agency for seven years. She is the most ordinary woman in Korea, according to the standards of Korean society. In no way is she remarkable—work, family, education, looks, or personality. But strangely enough, every day is a series of departure and struggle for her. Sweet City of Mine is a record of both everyday and romantic life of an ordinary single woman living in Seoul, Korea, and her life is far from ordinary.

     

    Love, marriage, and romantic relationships. We live in a day when the three are not necessarily connected. But the “ordinary” women of Korea, including Eunsu, dream of this perfect trinity. Sweet City of Mine is a story about single women in their thirties who wonder everyday in despair if this trinity is nothing but a myth or a fantasy. What keeps it in the realms of fantasy is capital and attraction. In other words, the younger guy you like is broke, with no capital to speak of; the other guy, with solid capital, isn’t attractive enough. The whims of a young woman’s heart change according to the degree of attraction. What’s more fatal is the barrier of reality in which romantic love is no longer possible without money.

     

    The contradiction of young urban women, having cheap lunch yet drinking Starbucks coffee that costs more than twice as much, is not to be so reproached. To all women who were born in a city and love the city, and will raise a family in the city, this will be a coming-of-age novel for grownups. To all who sympathize with the “ordinary” fate of Eunsu, who at thirty-two has accomplished nothing—in her own words—and has no one who passionately loves her or whom she passionately loves, it will leave a bitter aftertaste, like that of a cup of sweet Caramel Macchiato.

     

    About the author

     

    Jeong was born in 1972 and made her literary debut in 2002 with her receipt of the first Literature and Society’s New Writers Award for Romantic Love and Society, a collection of short stories. 


    Jeong is known to have created through her works a new kind of vocabulary for women, overthrowing a patriarchal hypocrisy and Puritanism. Sharing her insights on the politics of romantic relationships, she gives new meaning to the word “provocation” from a more modern perspective. Instead of writing about women in the 1990s, who resorted to sexual acts for a fantasy about a new kind of romance, she focuses on women who adapt strictly to the social process that leads from romantic relationships to marriage, and by doing so, exposes their ideology of romantic relationships conformed with marriage.

     

     

    About the translators

     

    Jung Yewon received a BA in English from Brigham Young University, and an MA from the Graduate School of Interpretation and Translation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. She received the 42nd Korea Times Translation Award, as well as Daesan and LTI translation grants. Her works of translation include No One Writes Back, A Most Ambiguous Sunday, Vaseline Buddha, and One Hundred Shadows. 

     

    Media Response/Awards Received

     

    Received the 2004 Yi Hyo-seok Literary Award for The Loneliness of Others

    Received the 2006 Hyundai Literary Award for Sampung Department Store

     

    A cute but immature younger guy? Or a boring older guy with spending power? A clever novel about a young woman in whose life it’s suddenly raining men . . . a book with popular appeal.

    - Hankyoreh

     

    Jeong made her literary debut in 2002, and rose to renown with her receipt of the Hyundai Literary Award in 2006 for a work that closely examines the lives of people of her generation living in a city. Kodansha, a major Japanese publisher, bought the publication rights for Sweet City of Mine even before the novel, a newspaper serial, had come to an end. Jeong has remarked of her novel that she did not feel that she could write about anything before she had taken a direct look at her own generation, saying, “I want to tell the story of the here and now, with a wider perspective and universality.” To her, love means “this moment.” For love, prone to change, is a thing not to be trusted.

    -The Segye Times

     

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