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Korean Authors


Writer Park Sang-Young

A Joyful Solidarity Built Between the Writer and their Readers Through Novels




Pursuing joy in life is one of the privileges given to human beings. Of the many strengths of fiction, readers particularly love finding joy inside the stories. People enjoy reading fiction that is fun and easily readable. One of the writers talented in maximizing such characteristics of fiction is Park Sang-Young, who creates the common ground of “writing joy” and “reading joy” between him and his readers through his stories. Park has been creating a synergy effect, encouraging readers to share the joy and feel solidarity with him. Let’s dive into the delightful moment with writer Park Sang-Young, who exerted his unique joyful energy throughout the interview.





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Hello, I’m novelist Park Sang-Young. I’ve written fiction such as Love In the Big City (Changbi Publishers), and I Want to be One-Dimensional (Munhakdongne).


After winning the Sin Dong-Yup Prize for Literature with your Love In the Big City, you were also nominated for the Booker Prize, not to mention winning literary prizes each year since your debut. This is never an ordinary career for an author who has won both public popularity and literary recognition. So how do you feel about your accomplishments, and where do you think such a literary capacity came from?


I think winning a prize is sheer luck. When I just made my debut, there were many attempts to find new literature. As the genres of my works were rare in the existing literary field, I could receive much attention in my early days. Well, winning a prize always makes me happy. I feel really good, and when I was nominated for the Booker Prize, I couldn’t actually believe the news as I had never thought that it was something that could happen in my life. I don’t actually feel the love from the public, readers, and critics to my skin, but I’m truly grateful for the good reviews.
I don’t think public popularity and literary recognition are different from each other by a significant amount. Some readers might read literature because it is fun and exciting, but some readers might read literary stories because they want their stories, never to be told, to be related. So, I’ve been writing stories mulling over these aspects to quite an extent, and I think the readers recognized my efforts.




Love In the Big City and I Want to be One-Dimensional



As a young writer, you have been covering many stories about youth, while making an unrivaled career in queer literature in particular. So, you have been writing across various genres. Where do you usually get your inspiration? Also, what kind of stories do you aim to discuss in your works?


I get inspiration from every part of my life. I get it from things like articles I skim through or conversations with my friends. I try to make my stories as abundant as possible. So, I like wandering around a lot, have a great interest in how others are living, and look deep into my heart – these are where I get the motives for my stories.
People seem like they have distinct desires, different dreams, and different conditions in life. But, I think there is a point where they all converge, and that is what I want to discuss through my stories.


Evaluating yourself, what do you think is the greatest charm of your work? Please also tell us about the energy and feeling of accomplishment you get from writing stories.


The books I like to read are those with great readability. So, I put a lot of effort into writing and editing my works so they can be read seamlessly. I think that the reason why many readers like my works is because they are easy and quick-to-read with strong storylines and jokes put in between boring parts. I guess these are the charming points of my stories.
I tend to exhaust energy through my work rather than getting energy from them. But, I feel pleasure when I share things with so many people, things so serious that I couldn’t open up to anyone. This really heals – it becomes energy for me. So, I always have this hope in mind that I will grow to be a better self as I write stories.


You have also written Work in Seoul, Sleep in Jeju, a non-fiction work about your experience in “Gapado Artist in Residence” run by the Jeju Foundation for Arts and Culture. How did this experience affect your work?


It was a whole new experience as it was the first time I lived in a so-called rural or remote area. I thought that I was more of an urban man that couldn’t live in isolated places where there were no people at all, but as I lived for some time in Gapado, I could realize that another part of myself enjoyed the leisurely time. I had suffered quite a lot from burn-out syndrome after writing I Want to be One-Dimensional, but I could get better as I stayed in Gapado. Thanks to my stay, the writing spirit burst in my heart. The novel, set to be published in July, strongly reflects the experiences and inner states I had during my stay.



I feel pleased when I share things with so many people that
I couldn’t tell anyone in real life through my work.



You have been actively releasing works and serializing stories while busy with schedules in other fields than writing. Is there a special competitiveness that helps you write stories without losing energy?


I think writing stories is a job I have to do for a living. As a full-time writer, I’m open to any work-related requests as I have to keep a certain amount of income. But as I realized that I needed a brake to control the speed and flow of work, I signed a contract with an agency and found the right amount of manuscript I could write steadily without getting exhausted. So, these days I’m trying to work for just that set amount. And I signed a contract with the agency because I wanted to create an environment where I could keep writing stories without getting burned out. And as I became free from issues surrounding guarantees or schedules, I got more space to focus on things I wanted to do.


You have been appearing on TV quite a lot. It is assumed that working through various media broadens the scope of communication and experience, ultimately serving as the driving force for writing better stories. What do you think?


My upcoming novel includes many stories about it, by the way. Showing up on various media personally helped me in gathering data. It’s not just the staff I meet on the shows; as I get to meet people from so many different circles on TV shows about liberal art (ex. Yemen immigrant in Jeju, crime profilers, etc.), second-hand experiences through conversations with them often became the fertilizer for my works. Also, it was a kind of spill-over effect that my heightened reputation through TV shows helped boost sales – I truly enjoy appearing on various media.


Apart from your nomination for the Booker Prize, your The Tears of an Unknown Artist, or Zaytun Pasta, was translated and serialized on WWB (Words Without Borders), a literary magazine in the US. It has been receiving good feedback from international fans – is there anything you are preparing in particular for overseas publication?


I’m coordinating my schedule as I got many invitations for international book festivals this year and next. Well, as a matter of preparation, I’m taking English classes as a hobby. But, I’m still the same person, the same writer, and as I’m writing stories that are read by people using my mother tongue, I’m not particularly putting effort into overseas publications.



The Tears of an Unknown Artist, or Zaytun Pasta



Many of your works have been published internationally. Is there a particular book that you want to recommend overseas readers to read?


In the book The Tears of an Unknown Artist, or Zaytun Pasta, there is a short queer story titled Fake Viagra and Drugs Made in China, a Short Joke About Urine that Doesn’t Collect Anywhere. This is one of the stories I like the most. It contains many elements that foreigners might find interesting, so I suggest reading this. Also, Missing: Paris Hilton and The Busan International Film Festival are stories in the same collection that continue as a series. I hope many people read this as they are stories about engaged people.


Your next moves are highly anticipated as you are a young writer. So what are your future plans?


At some point, I stopped having long and grandiose dreams. I don’t think life goes in the direction I want. So, I changed the paradigm and told myself to do one thing I could do every day, which made my life simple and fun. If I had set a goal of becoming an author and winning the Booker Prize, I might not have become a writer like myself today and would have been so frustrated when I failed to make it to the final nomination. As I always think to myself, “Write exciting stories” instead of having macroscopic goals, it was like a gift when I got nominated for the prize. Everything is always so fun. It is my goal to continue writing fun stories, and enjoying communicating with my readers.





#Park Sang-Young#Sin Dong-Yup Prize for Literature#Booker Prize#Queer literature
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