[Short Fiction Series 17]
Ch’ae Man-shik is one of the great talents of modern Korean literature. His penetrating mind, command of idiom, utterly realistic dialogue, and keen wit produced a fictional style all his own. This volume contains three of his finest stories, two published during the Japanese colonial occupation of Korea (1910-1945) and one shortly thereafter. In each story the immediacy of the narrative makes us feel as if we are in the direct presence of a storyteller.
“My Innocent Uncle” satirizes idealistic Korean socialists as well as opportunistic Koreans who ally with the Japanese colonizers for social and economic gain.
“A Ready-Made Life” concerns the plight of the unemployed young intellectuals turned out by a modernizing colonial society―young men who perpetually make the rounds of publishing houses, pawnshops, and cheap bars.
And “Once Upon a Paddy” suggests that Korean peasants under Japanese colonial rule were no worse off than they were during the Joseon kingdom (1392-1910).