Books that inspired Cheon Myeong-kwan's Whale

By Europa Editions

By Europa Editions

Books that inspired Cheon Myeong-kwan's International Booker longlisted Whale

Slaughterhouse 5: Discover Kurt Vonnegut's anti-war masterpiece

Kurt Vonnegut

£9.99 £9.49

I picked up this novel at a bookstore on a whim. Just a few pages in, I realized I felt so close to this writer’s very soul and became a huge lifelong fan. At the time, Vonnegut’s work wasn’t well known in Korea, so I thought I was the only one who secretly revered him, but increasingly people began talking about him. I was deeply offended and wanted to burn all his books so nobody could read them. More and more people were becoming fans and everyone and their mother was talking about Vonnegut. Like they had shared a drink with him at a bar. Yet again, tragically, my unrequited love was dismantled. So it goes . . .

The Ascent Of Rum Doodle

W E Bowman

£9.99 £9.49

Bowman worked his entire life as a civil engineer and wrote in his spare time. This book went out of print a long time ago and was forgotten. Thirty years later, it was reissued, and Bowman died not long after. And The Ascent of Rum Doodle became universally beloved. From time to time, I think I want to be a writer like Bowman. Because he lived a quiet life, wrote joyfully, and made many readers happy.

The Nickel Boys: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2020

Colson Whitehead

£9.99 £9.49

I blurbed the Korean edition of this book. To quote myself: Simply put, when you finish this novel, you will feel elated, having become a slightly better person than you were before you read it.

Trout Fishing in America

Richard Brautigan

£9.99 £9.49

Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Richard Brautigan—it’s an old story, but I spent a long time with these writers on my reading journey. I identified with Trout Fishing in America in particular as I had grown up in the countryside. Rural America and rural Korea aren’t all that different from each other, with poverty and sadness underneath it all.

Post Office

Charles Bukowski

£9.99 £9.49

I was already middle-aged when I read this book for the first time. I read it at a very difficult time, personally. Chinaski, the weary protagonist, is also going through a hard time. Strangely, though, I felt happy while I was reading it. Setting aside its literary significance, it was because I felt I would be able to bear it all, no matter how difficult, if I could look at the world through Bukowski’s eyes—if I could arm myself with Bukowski’s gaze to stand up against the world—and be accompanied by alcohol, too.

Rabbit, Run

John Updike

£9.99 £9.49

Before this, the books I read when I was young followed remarkable lives. Stories about adventure and romance, hardship and adversity, struggle and triumph. What I realized when I read this novel at eighteen was that, for the most part, not much happens in life. And while that truth was very disappointing, it was also oddly a relief.

Whale: A masterpiece of modern Korean fiction

Cheon Myeong-kwan

£14.99 £14.24

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Luo Guanzhong

£12.99 £12.34

I read this book so many times when I was in school! I don’t remember any other reading experience that was so powerful and overwhelming. I can’t pretend to understand how this book affected my consciousness and sensibilities, but I can’t deny this book’s literary influence on me as a fiction writer, many years later.

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