Yi T’aejun was one of twentieth-century Korea’s true masters of the short story—and a man who in 1946 stunned his contemporaries by moving to the Soviet-occupied northern zone of his country. In South Korea, where he is known today as “one who went north,” Yi’s work was banned until 1988. His momentous decision did not lead him to a safe haven, however: though initially welcomed into the literary establishment, North Korea sent him into internal exile in the 1950s, and little is known of his fate.
Dust and Other Stories, translated by UH Mānoa alumna Janet Poole (MA ’95), offers a selection of Yi’s stories across time and place, showcasing a superb stylist caught up in the midst of his era’s most urgent ideological and aesthetic divides.
Janet Poole is a translator and literary historian who teaches Korean literature at the University of Toronto. She is also the translator of Eastern Sentiments, a collection of Yi T’aejun’s essays (Columbia, 2009), and the author of When the Future Disappears: The Modernist Imagination in Late Colonial Korea (Columbia, 2014). She received her master’s degree from UH Mānoa’s College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature.
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