Years and Years
by Open Letter
Three women—the old mother and her two daughters—contemplate their family life and their bottled-up feelings through the novel’s placating yet oddly unnerving prose.
Years and Years is divided into four large chapters; the first unravels from the perspective of Sejin, younger daughter, the second from that of Youngjin, older daughter, the third from the mother’s, and the fourth, back to Sejin’s. Throughout the course of the novel, a number of themes are developed, including its discussion of interracial marriage, different forms of family, and sexual minorities. Circumstances and history forced the mother to the life of obedience, familial obligations and financial hardship forced Youngjin to give up her dream and support the family, and the reality of her culture forced Sejin to be in the closet. And all the while, these three women, while empathizing with each other, seem entrapped in the cycle of forcing each other to further succumb.
Translated from the Korean by Janet Hong
About the Author:
Born in 1976, Hwang Jungeun is one of the bright young things of Korean literature, having published two collections of short stories and three novels to date. One Hundred Shadows (2010), her first novel, was both a critical and commercial success; its mix of oblique fantasy, hard-edge social critique, and offbeat romance garnered the Hankook Ilbo Literary Award and the Korean Booksellers’ Award.
About the Translator:
Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the 2018 TA First Translation Prize and the 2018 LTI Korea Translation Award for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale. She’s a two-time winner of the Harvey Award for Best International Book for her translations of Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass and Yeong-shin Ma’s Moms. Other recent translations include Ha Seong-nan’s Bluebeard’s First Wife (selected as Publishers Weekly’s 10 Best Books of 2020) and Kwon Yeo-sun’s Lemon. She is currently the Korean prose mentor for ALTA’s Emerging Translator Mentorship Program.
Praise for Hwang Jungeun:
"There is an unforgettable, curious beauty to be found [in One Hundred Shadows]."—Han Kang, Winner of the Man Booker International Prize
"A profound, lyrical incantation . . . What could be a fairly depressing story [I'll Go On] is raised to a thing of crystalline incandescence because of the sensitivity and humanity with which both author and translator craft this work"—Translating Women
"I’ll Go On tenderly and poetically examines the bonds of sisterhood and family—the one we’re born with and the one we choose—exploring both the damage love can do and its capacity for healing. It’s at once sad and hopeful, quiet and yet full to the brim of an intense and beautiful energy."—Sophie Mackintosh