Reading guide: Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, translated by Chi-Young Kim
Discover our reading guide for Whale, shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2023, a rollercoaster adventure through Korean history and culture
An adventure-satire of epic proportions, which sheds new light on the changes Korea experienced in its rapid transition from pre-modern to post-modern society.
Set in a remote village in South Korea, Whale follows the lives of three linked characters: Geumbok, an extremely ambitious woman who has been chasing an indescribable thrill ever since she first saw a whale crest in the ocean; her mute daughter, Chunhui, who communicates with elephants; and a one-eyed woman who controls honeybees with a whistle. A fiction that brims with surprises and wicked humour, from one of the most original voices in South Korea.
Whale was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2023, announced on April 18, 2023.
About the AuthorCheon Myeong-kwan is a South Korean novelist, screenwriter and director whose work has been translated into eight languages.
A carnivalesque fairy tale that celebrates independence and enterprise, a picaresque quest through Korea’s landscapes and history, Whale is a riot of a book. Cheon Myeong-Kwan’s vivid characters are foolish but wise, awful but endearing, and always irrepressible. This is a hymn to restlessness and self-transformation.