SEOUL, May 30 (Korea Bizwire) – The Man Booker International Award, received by novelist Han Kang on May 17, was not the only event that excited fans of Korean literature this May. Novelist Yu Jeong Jeong, famous for ‘7 Years of Night’ and ‘28’, released a brand new novel on May 16 titled ‘The Origin of Species’ that has been well received in literary circles.
Jeong’s past novels had been received with such acclaim and popularity that anyone who claims to be a reader can be assumed to have read at least one of her novels. Her bestseller ‘7 Years of Night’, published in 2011, sold more than 400,000 copies, while her novel ‘28’, published in 2013, sold over 200,000 copies.
The new novel ‘The Origin of Species’ was met with peak anticipation even before its release, ranking number one in the bestseller novels list at multiple online book shops such as Kyobo Book and Aladdin. Once released, the novel ranked third on the overall bestseller list (between May 18 and 24) of ‘Kyobo Book’, ‘Yes 24’, and ‘Aladdin’.
The popularity enjoyed by Jeong is not only domestic but global, placing her among the leaders in the globalization of Korean literature. Her last novel ‘7 Years of Night’, for instance, was included in the ‘2015’s Top 10 Crime Novels’ list created by the German weekly ‘Die Zeit’.
Throughout her literary career, readers and critics have pointed to Jeong’s power of narration – regardless of what the novel’s content or even the topic may be – as what makes her novels appeal to the masses.
This time, in ‘The Origin of Species’, Jeong digs into the origin of evil with a psychopath as the main character – but her approach is far from simply projecting abstract guesses about what a psychopath must be like. What she employs instead is a scientific approach as she sharply examines the various components that interplay and build into the genesis of a psychopath.
Just as the topic of her previous novel ‘28’ was related to current issues – at the time, the spread of a virus in Korea and around the world – Jeong’s new novel is likewise purposefully reminiscent of the cold blooded crimes recently creating a stir in our society.
“I was worried that critics might say my book beautifies a villain,” said Jeong. Contrary to the author’s concerns, the prevailing response from readers is that though the story itself may have some uncomfortable moments, it is thought-provoking, leaving readers with deep philosophical implications to ponder over.
The uproarious response from readers moreover disproved earlier concerns that the novel may not receive as much attention due to its release date being so close to the day Han Kang received her Man Booker Award. Online book reviewers raved, “overpowering narration by Jeong”, “incredible, just as expected”, “it pulls you in”, and “novel that leaves you spellbound”.
By Esther J. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)