The Korea Herald


[New in Korean] Booker shortlisted Bora Chung returns with autobiographical SF tales

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Feb. 11, 2024 - 10:01

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"Surrender, Earth Creatures" by Bora Chung (Rabbit Hole)

"Surrender, Earth Creatures" (a literal translation of the Korean title)

By Bora Chung

Rabbit Hole

Bora Chung, a finalist for the UK International Booker Prize and the US National Book Award for her genre-defying work, "Cursed Bunny" (translated by Anton Hur), has returned with a collection of science fiction stories titled "Surrender, Earth Creatures."

"Surrender, Earth Creatures" is a delightful, animated compilation of stories that incorporates Chung's autobiographical reflections, shedding light on the harsh realities and unfair treatment faced by part-time lecturers, and how her life changed after becoming a full-time writer.

Chung began her career as a part-time lecturer at a university. Despite a master's degree from Yale and a doctorate in Russian literature from Indiana University, Chung faced challenging work conditions, especially as a part-time lecturer. Known for her outspoken nature, Chung took a leading role in advocating for better conditions for part-time lecturers, participating in many strikes and protests.

The first story, "Octopus," takes a comedic turn as an alien resembling an octopus joins the picket line. The creature is caught by the chairman (of the labor union), who has a particular fondness for seafood, and ends up as sushi.

Similarly, Chung adds her signature humor and twists to the six interconnected stories in the collection that feature two main characters -- "I" and her husband, the chairman.

Chung artfully weaves in some of her real-life experiences, including her initial encounter with her husband. Stripped of its sci-fi elements, the anthology could be read as an essay due to its raw honesty.