Virtuoso Hwang Sok-yong is back with another powerful story—an epic, multi-generational tale that threads together a century of Korean history.
Centered on a family of rail workers, Mater 2-10 vividly depicts the lives of workers and common folk, starting from the Japanese colonial era, continuing through Liberation, and right up to the twenty-first century, rendering in elegant prose a history of modern Korea. A true voice of a generation, Hwang shows again why he is unmatched when it comes to depicting the grief of a divided nation and bringing to life the cultural identity and trials and tribulations of the Korean people.
Mater 2-10 moves like a locomotive, demonstrating both Hwang Sok-yong’s powers as a writer and the beauty of the long novel. The plot centers on three generations of rail workers and Yi Jino, a laid-off factory worker staging a high-altitude sit-in. Perched on the catwalk of a sixteen-storey-high factory chimney during long and bitterly cold nights, Jino talks to his ancestors and friends, chewing on the meaning of life, on wisdom passed down through generations.
Mater 2-10 is a stunning achievement. It is at once a powerful account that captures a nation’s longing for a rail line that would connect North and South, a magical-realist novel that manages to reflect the lives of modern industrial workers, and a culmination of Hwang’s career—a masterpiece thirty years in the making.
Praise for Familiar Things:
“Hwang Sok-yong is one of South Korea's foremost writers, a powerful voice for society's marginalized, and Sora Kim-Russell's translations never falter.”
Deborah Smith, translator of The Vegetarian
Praise for At Dusk:
“Having been imprisoned for political reasons, Hwang has a restrained, delicate touch, alive to the nuances of memory, the slipperiness of the past, and the difficult choices life forces us to make ... Subtly political, deeply humane, a story about home, loss, and the cost of a country's advancement.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review