Friday, December 23, 2011

The DNF Files: Three Generations - Yom Sang-seop


From the book jacket:

Touted as one of Korea's most important works of fiction, Three Generations (published in 1931 as a serial in Chosun Ilbo) charts the tensions of the Jo family in 1930s Japanese-occupied Seoul.  Delving deeply into each character's history and beliefs, Yom Sang-seop illuminates the diverse pressures and impulses that drive them.  This Korean classic, often compared to Junichiro Tanizaki's The Makioka Sisters, reveals the country's situation under Japanese rule, the traditional Korean familial structure, and the battle between the modern and the traditional.  The long-awaited publication of this tour de force is a vital addition to the Korean literary canon available in English.

I'm terribly disappointed with myself for not getting along better with this book.  After about 50 pages, I thought it was meandering, and I chafed against its rhythms.  Maybe it's the book.  Maybe it's me. I don't know.  When I first found it, I was excited to be reading a Korean novel that was both literature and a slice of history.  This is in my DNF files, but  it may be a short stay before it goes back on the TBR.

2 comments:

Sam Sattler said...

I hate when this happens...and it happened 9 times to me in 2011. It always leaves me wondering if the problem was with me or the book. But, on the few occasions I've given a book a second chance, my initial reaction has not changed. Life's too short...on the the next book!

Charles Montgomery said...

I totally feel you on this book. It took me three tries to get through it.

Reasons?

First, even for a Korean novel I had trouble keeping the names straight.

Second, the writing (translation?) is flat.

Third, it moves slowly.

Still, once I discarded reading it for literature and tried to read it as a historical discourse? It kind of worked for me. And I liked that the characters did evolve a bit through the book - which doesn't always happen in Korean fiction.

But it is pretty long to go back to if you don't like it.^^