Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur

This entry is part 52 of 52 in the series 2022 Reads

As with other posts in this series, these #booksread2022 posts get published with some lag. I’m trying to be more punctual, though, and this one’s very recent.


Cursed Bunny is a collection of nightmares: curses gone infectious, an impossible pregnancy, a real estate horror, a fantasy set in a mythic desert, a few ghost stories with surprising twists. I was delighted to find a copy just sitting there on the shelf at one of our local libraries, crying out to be read.   

I can understand why people have made comparisons to Angela Carter (despite my being only slightly familiar with Carter’s work): there’s something about many of these stories that feels strongly aligned with the older, creepy sort of mood and pacing of traditional fairytales, and Chung’s relentless plunging into the dark waters of the unconscious only heightens this feeling. Hans Christian Andersen also came to mind, especially when I began the collection, not for the stories most people know but for the darker and odder ones. (For example, the first story in Cursed Bunny, “The Head,” immediately called to mind both Andersen’s “The Shadow” and Ursula K. Le Guin’s interpretation of the Andersen story in “The Child and the Shadow” (collected in Language of the Night, but you may be able to read the essay over on Google Books).

Many of the stories are set in modern South Korea or feature modern South Korean characters, but a few are set in imaginary lands or in the past. It’s also a very self-consciously feminist work, which is to say that it explicitly  explores many of the horrors of gender in modern South Korea, often focusing on the kinds of dilemmas and frustrations faced by women who for whatever reason are dealing with pressures and stresses for which their earlier social experiences have not prepared them—which, it sometimes seems, includes a lot of things that are open secrets, hidden from the young but on full display for anyone willing to open their eyes and see. 

As for the translation, my impression is that it’s mostly quite good; what I mean specifically is that it mostly gets out of the way of the story, and supports understanding for a wide range of readers. (There are really just a few spots where I’m unconvinced about a translation decision, and most of them didn’t jolt me out of the text very much.) In any case, I enjoyed the collection and think it’s very much worth checking out!

 

Series Navigation<< <em>Saga</em>, Vols. 2–3, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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