Bluebeard's First Wife
by Ha Seong-nan
June 16, 2020
stories | pb | 230 pgs.
5.5" x 8.5"
"These mesmerizing stories of disconnection and detritus unfurl with the surreal illogic of dreams—it’s as impossible to resist their pull as it is to understand, in retrospect, how circumstance succeeded circumstance to finally deliver the reader into a moment as indelible as it is unexpected. Janet Hong’s translation glitters like a blade.”
"Flowers of Mold shows Ha Seong-nan to be a master of the strange story. . . . one is left feeling unsettled, as if something is not right with the world—or, rather (and this latter option becomes increasingly convincing), as if something is not right with you."
Disasters, accidents, and deaths abound in Bluebeard’s First Wife. A woman spends a night with her fiancé and his friends, and overhears a terrible secret that has bound them together since high school. A man grows increasingly agitated by the apartment noise made by a young family living upstairs and arouses the suspicion of his own wife when the neighbors meet a string of unlucky incidents. A couple moves into a picture-perfect country house, but when their new dog is stolen, they become obsessed with finding the thief, and in the process, neglect their child. Ha’s paranoia-inducing, heart-quickening stories will have you reconsidering your own neighbors.
Translated from the Korean by Janet Hong
About the Author:
Ha Seong-nan is the author of five short story collections—including Bluebeard's First Wife and Flowers of Mold—and three novels. Over her career, she's received a number of prestigious awards, such as the Dong-in Literary Award in 1999, Hankook Ilbo Literary Prize in 2000, the Isu Literature Prize in 2004, the Oh Yeong-su Literary Award in 2008, and the Contemporary Literature (Hyundae Munhak) Award in 2009.
About the Translator:
Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. Her work has appeared in Brick: A Literary Journal, Literary Hub, Asia Literary Review, Words Without Borders, and the Korea Times. Her other translations include Han Yujoo's The Impossible Fairy Tale and Ancco's Bad Friends.