Yesterday, after class, I was sitting in my study when I heard a knock on the door. The person on the other end identified themselves as being from DHL. In retrospect, I suppose that is precisely what a land shark attempting to gain entry to my apartment would say, but I opened the door to find a man holding a very large box. I signed for the package and then saw that it was from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
There it is. It’s actually real. Strangely enough, I am now terrified to look at it, lest I spot some maverick typo that somehow escaped the attention of the capable eyes at HMH. But it is nice to be able to hold it in my hands—my first novel translation, in hardback. I don’t know if there’s any more I can say about it at this point that I haven’t already said, but there you have it.
The perceptive among you may have noticed a computer screen in the background of the above photo. Most of the text is out of focus, but the title is legible: “The Chef’s Nail.” As luck would have it, on the same day that I received the physical fruits of my labors on Black Flower in the mail, another translation of mine was published in the online magazine “Words Without Borders.” It is a short story by Yun Ko-eun and is part of the current issue of the magazine, in a new section called “New Writing From South Korea.”
This translation was completed in short order compared to Black Flower—the turn-around from the beginning of translation to online publication was about six weeks. It has been a very different experience, but also a very rewarding one, and it has been a pleasure to work with WWB.
If you are interested in reading the story and your Google-fu is rusty, I am here for you: “If only she had not misread ‘The Chef’s Mail’ as ‘The Chef’s Nail,’ none of this ever would have happened....” Click through for the rest of this surreal ride. I hope you enjoy it.