A sprawling, multigenerational epic, Hwang Sok-yong’s Mater 2-10 tells the story of a working-class Korean family and details their struggles against the tides of the 20th century, from the Japanese colonial era through the division of the Peninsula to South Korea’s economic boom. Their agitation for workers’ rights spans the generations, as does the unique ability of the family’s women to speak and affect events from beyond the grave, both of which define the family and mark the epochs of the story. 

Greek Lessons by celebrated Korean author and Man Booker International Prize winner Han Kang is a brief, poetic, and intimate look into the lives of two people, each affected by a disability, both cleaved from society in their own way, yet progressively drawn together by their shared grief and nascent hope. The narration switches between the two, tracing their lives in a series of flashbacks or letters to loved ones that show how each progressively fell away from family and friends, either due to distance or death and divorce. 

Hospital by acclaimed Chinese science-fiction writer Han Song is a kafkaesque trip through a fictional hospital turned nation-state that explores the Buddhist philosophy on suffering, the nature of the doctor-patient relationship, and the mental state of patients who suffer from chronic conditions. 

Cheon Myeong-Kwan’s Whale is a sweeping epic mostly set in Pyeongdae, a remote mountain town that immediately evokes Macondo from Gabriel García Márquez’s similarly sprawling epic One Hundred Years of Solitude. Depicted with the same sort of dreamlike magical realism, Pyeongdae goes from a forgotten mountain hamlet to a booming railway city to a ghost town set against a fun, witty satire of Korea’s development from a Japanese colony to a prosperous independent republic.

A moving work of exceptional scholarship, Gwangju Uprising: The Rebellion for Democracy in South Korea was commissioned in an era of rising fake news to combat false narratives that had become popular on the internet, not the least of which was the idea that the events of the Gwangju Uprising were sparked by North Korean spies and agents provocateurs.