“Writing that refuses to ignore suffering, but at the same time refuses to let itself be destroyed by destruction—which is a great challenge to any author.”—Le Figaro Littéraire
“Hwang Sok-Yong is the most committed, politically active writer of all those who have translated from the Korean in recent years.”—Libération
During the Korean War, Hwanghae Province in North Korea was the setting of a 52-day massacre. The atrocities were attributed to the American military, but in truth, they resulted from a vicious battle between Christian and Communist Koreans. Forty years later, Ryu Yo-seop, a minister living in America, returns to his home village, where his older brother once played a notorious role in the bloodshed. Haunted by memories and visited by truth-telling apparitions, Yo-seop must face the survivors of the tragedy and lay his brother’s soul to rest. Faulkner-like in its intense interweaving narratives, The Guest is a daring and ambitious literary novel about the pain of division, the scars of the past, and the search for reconciliation.
Hwang Sok-Yong is arguably Korea’s most recognized and renowned author. Drawing artistic inspiration from his own experiences as a vagabond day laborer, student activist, Vietnam War veteran, advocate for coal miners and garment workers, and political dissident, he is embraced as a writer and champion of the people. In 1993 there was an international outcry when Hwang was sentenced to seven years in prison for an unauthorized trip to the North to promote exchange between artists in North and South Korea. In 1998, he was released on a special pardon by the new president. The recipient of Korea’s highest literary prizes and shortlisted for the Prix Femina Etranger, his novels and short stories are published in North and South Korea, Japan, China, France, Germany, and America.