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Genre Novel Publisher 'Arzak Livres'




Arzak Livres is a South Korean publisher that plans, discovers and translates good genre novels. Arzak aims to act as a beacon for readers in South Korea who love genre novels and to show them the publisher's vision for genre novels. With that in mind, Arzak has been consistently publishing genre novels until today, saying it believes in the value of science fiction novels as a 'literature of subversion'. The below is a Q&A with Arzak, where the publisher discussed its vision, future publications and representative books.




Hello, we are happy to introduce Arzak Livres through K-Book Trends. We're aware Arzak is a publisher that focuses on science fiction. Could you introduce Arzak to our readers?


Arzak's motto is "Have beautiful dreams and spread science everywhere". After the publication of our first book Little Brother in September 2015, we have published some-70 science fiction novels from both South Korea and abroad over the past four years and established ourselves as a science fiction focused publisher. Like the main characteristic of literature which is to aggressively deny irrational realities, we firmly believe in the value of science fiction as a 'literature of subversion' that tirelessly seeks out the most scientific and rational alternatives.


Little Brother

Little Brother


Arzak seems like a unique name that makes one think of the Korean adverb 'ajak', which refers to the sound one makes when biting into something firm or breaking it. Is there a special meaning in the name?


It has two meanings. One refers to the adverb you mentioned; the sound one makes when biting into something firm or breaking it. Our company name means to be firm and never break, and challenge the irrational reality. Arzak the English word we got from Jean Giraud Moebius' biggest work of art and its main character's name 'Arzak'. Moebius was one of France's most renowned artists and animation artists, and he even worked on science fiction movies like “The Fifth Element” as a concept designer. In the comic, Arzak speaks no words but plays music all over the world on a dragon to resolve irrational conflict he sees along the way. He loves books too.



We are trying very hard not to be emotional
about the performance of every single book we publish.
And we are sure in our mission that we will try not to disappoint our readers.



When one thinks of genre literature, one can easily fall into the mistake of thinking those books are for people already interested in the subject. We feel more books are attempting to attract a wider range of readers. What kind of efforts does Arzak believe publishers should take to help readers open their minds?


We say this very carefully as we only have four years of experience as a publisher, but we are trying very hard not to be emotional about the performance of every single book we publish. I'm sure all other publishers are the same, but more and more good books from us will eventually create the Arzak brand, and because we've already seen the number of readers who trust us grow over the past four years, we are sure in our mission that we will try not to disappoint our readers.


Arzak's first book Little Brother became the center of attention after it was mentioned during an anti-terrorist act filibuster in 2016. And you said you've published more than 70 books since then. We're curious to know what some of your other representative books might be.


Our Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan, who is acclaimed for having inspired so many Japanese animation works like 'Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam' and 'Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water', was quite popular. Books by Connie Willis, a key science fiction writer in the English-speaking world, have also seen steady demand. Her time travel series like Fire Watch, Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog and Blackout/All Clear have been published through us. In terms of more recent publications, we would have Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy and Mur Lafferty's Six Wakes. We have also featured South Korean authors like Kim Bo-young, who recently signed a copyright export deal with Harper Collins in the United States for The Prophet for This World. Can Be Taken Back by contributing author Moon Mok-ha has also become one of our bestsellers through word of mouth.


<Inherit the Stars>, <The Prophet for This World>, <Can Be Taken Back>

Inherit the Stars, The Prophet for This World, Can Be Taken Back



The science-fiction work of South Korean authors is,
simply put, young, charismatic and cool.
We believe young South Korean science-fiction authors
will someday receive more attention than anyone else.



We heard you have good news regarding author Moon Mok-ha, who is still a budding author. Moon's video adaptation rights for Can Be Taken Back were bought by a Hollywood producer. I think this shows South Korean genre novel content has competitiveness even outside South Korea. When compared to genre novels overseas, what do you think are the strengths of South Korean genre novels?


We think the reason will be quite similar to the competitive edge K-pop groups have around the world, but simply put, the science fiction work of South Korean authors is young, charismatic and cool. We republished this work last year, but South Korea's very first science fiction novel Complete Society was written in 1965. Because the existence of science fiction in South Korea was broken then for another several decades, the 'oldest' science fiction writer we have in South Korea is still in their 50s. However, the work we are seeing from our young authors is up there in quality with some of the non-Korean science fiction writers we translate and publish. Rather, the young South Korean authors have been able to show off their charisma subversively. They are not troubled by power that pressures their back, and we are certain young South Korean authors will someday receive more attention than anyone else because they are able to accept the diversity of culture.


What are some South Korean science-fiction novels you'd like to recommend to our readers at K-Book Trends?


This is something we do for our readers at home, but we have been continuously producing an introduction series of South Korean science fiction authors to promote them outside the country as well. We have published six in the series so far: Kim Chang-gyu's Samsara, Chang Gang-myung's A Very Private Superpower, Jeong Bo-ra's Curse Rabbit, dcdc's The Gummy Bear Murder Case, Gwak Jae-sik's The World's Biggest Bet and Lee San-hwa's A Proven Fact. We plan to continue introducing new works by South Korea's representative science fiction writers, and Arzak is certain the day will come when we will be able to offer foreign readers a collection of high-quality short stories by unique South Korean writers.


From left above: <Samsara>, <A Very Private Superpower>, <Curse Rabbit>, <The Gummy Bear Murder Case>, <The World's Biggest Bet> and <A Proven Fact>

From left above: Samsara, A Very Private Superpower, Curse Rabbit,
The Gummy Bear Murder Case, The World's Biggest Bet and A Proven Fact


Could you tell us about any books you have planned?


For our translated work, we are preparing a completed work of all 54 of Robert A. Heinlein's short stories. This would be unprecedented globally, as his short stories have only been partially published in collected form. The Heinlein Foundation was delighted to hear of our plan, and we think this work will be monumental. We are also working on a short story collection by Jeong Se-rang, a South Korean author who recently signed a contract with Netflix for a drama series, called One Eleventh (working title). Also, we're preparing long-form novels by South Korean writers who have published short story collections so far, like Kim Chang-gyu, Gwak Jae-sik and dcdc.


Our hopes are high for the path Arzak is taking as a science-fiction focused publisher. What is your plan and vision for Arzak when it comes to future books?


As we mentioned before, like our motto "Have beautiful dreams and spread science everywhere" we aim to keep the main characteristic that science fiction has, which is to be a literature of subversion. We hope to introduce high quality South Korean works of science-fiction as our authors are loyal yet more charismatic and cooler than authors in any other countries. We have also been expanding our expertise to science mystery books since last year that involve science fiction or carry elements we feel will attract science-fiction readers. This was a decision made by us solely, but it was also a change we felt had to be made as more books that are bound to one specific genre are being published in South Korea and elsewhere. So, one day perhaps, Arzak may be able to subversively change its identity as a science fiction focused publishing company.



Arranged by Choi Ha-Yeong


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