Plastic Surgery, Pressure to Succeed, and Presidential Turmoil: Selections from the LARB Korea Blog’s First Year

By Colin Marshall

I started writing the Los Angeles Review of Books Korea Blog on December 4th of last year, just three weeks after moving to Seoul from Los Angeles. One of my first posts covered a protest in Seoul Square; once of the most recent covered a series of demonstrations over the course of weeks that eventually brought up to a million citizens downtown to demand the resignation of President Park Geun-hye, the announcement of whose impeachment came just this past Friday. I’ll certainly be sticking around to see what happens next. Continue reading


Against the “Must Read”

By Nathan Scott McNamara

I don’t know where the term “must-read” got its start — if it goes back ten or 100 years, first showed up with booksellers or critics, or if “must-see” movies preceded “must-read” books — but I do know that I see a lot of it lately. With a quick search, I found a Newsweek list of the “must-read” books in the age of Donald Trump, and a Wired list of the “must-read” books of this past summer. Vulture and Flavorwire both publish a “must-read” list every month, featuring 7-10 books each. There are listicles across the internet that indicate some set of five to 20 “must-reads” for world-travelers, geeks, or “overwhelmed stepmoms,” for people interested in capitalism, Broadway, China, or almost anything you can think of. Continue reading


HillaryLooks and the Surreal World of Conservative Instagram

By Rhian Sasseen

On and around November 8, 2016, American history changed. The transition was at once immediate — in the days that followed, an uptick in hate crimes were reported across the nation — and subtle — the newspapers still refreshed as usual, though now each front page was emblazoned with the headline that Donald Trump had just been elected president. Now, a few weeks later, it is still early; life has proceeded onwards, though with telltale clues scattered like breadcrumbs. When speaking of the president-elect’s incoming Chief of Staff, a member of the transition team described their role as: “to make sure the trains run on time.” Continue reading


Some China-Related Holiday Gift Book Ideas

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

This post continues a tradition, first begun at The China Beat (a publication that began a four-year run in 2008) and then carried on here more recently, of inviting contributors to recommend books they thought could make good holiday presents for those obsessed with or merely curious about the world’s most populous country.  What follows, in what will likely be the first in a two-part series, are multiple recommendations from contributors Paul French and Susan Blumberg-Kason and, starting things off, a single suggestion from Mengfei Chen, who wrote “Reading Middlemarch in Jiangxi” for this blog, while she was working in publishing in Beijing, and is now based back in California and will be joining the LARB team as co-editor of this blog. Continue reading


2016 Releases from Dorothy, a Publishing Project

By Emily Wells

October was a thrilling month for Dorothy, a publishing project, a small press focused on publishing “fiction or near fiction or about fiction, mostly by women.” Dorothy releases their entire annual catalogue in October, in this year’s case, two small volumes: the first English translation of Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger, and a collection of short fiction, The Babysitter at Rest by Jen George. The two books compliment each other well. Both are unconventional forays into the burdens of womanhood and storytelling, and are desperately concerned with what it means to be female and unfulfilled. Continue reading


Enlightenment Fiction and the Birth of the “Modern” Korean Novel

By Charles Montgomery

The BLARB Korea Blog is currently featuring selections from The Explorer’s History of Korean Fiction in Translation, Charles Montgomery’s book-in-progress that attempts to provide a concise history and understanding of Korean literature as represented in translation. You can find links to previous selections at the end of the post. Continue reading