Original language: Korean

Original title: curse rabbit

Year of publication: 2017

Translator: Alvaro Trigo Maldonado

Valuation: Highly recommended (although somewhat irregular)

Korea (South Korea) is in fashion: in music, K-Pop is raging among the youngest; At the cinema, Parasites swept away just a few years ago; in series, The squid game It is a global success; In literature, Han Kang is perhaps the most visible and recognized of a group of writers, and especially women writers, who have conquered global readers in the most different genres and styles. This group, and this trend, is now joined by Bora Chung, an author with an already moderately extensive work (three novels and three books of short stories), and whose latest collection of short stories, cursed rabbitwas selected for the International Booker Prize in 2022. Now, this book comes to Spain from the hand of AlphaDecay, in translation by Álvaro Trigo Maldonado, and has been received, at least among fans of the fantastic, the ominous or the strange , with quite a bit of joy.

Actually, it is very difficult to assign a specific genre to this volume of stories, first of all because the limits between them are blurry and mobile.but because the author herself seems to want to offer a sample of the various variants of the fictional imagination, of the marvelous in the style of Arabian Nights to robot science fiction; from the fantastic to the bizarre; from the mythical to the everyday, although always with an unexpected and surprising twist. In fact, the only thing that I think links all stories is precisely that: containing some impossible, implausible, not necessarily supernatural element, which is sometimes inserted in a “realistic” world, mimetic of our own, and in other cases exists in its own and diverse universe.

Personally, the stories that I liked the most, by far, are those of the first group: those that are set in universes similar to ours, in contexts that are often everyday and vulgar, in which the ominous, the supernatural, intrudes with consequences. humorous or terrifying. The first, “Cursed Rabbit,” is a perfect example of this: the story of a family dedicated to creating cursed artifacts (like the rabbit of the title, which is actually a porcelain lamp) is intertwined with a story of business struggles and legal tricks with wonderful naturalness. In the same line that crosses (almost) social realism with the fantastic is “My sweet home”, which talks about the misadventures of a couple who have just bought a dilapidated building, which perhaps hides something more than garbage within its walls. from one of its last tenants.

Also magnificent and surprising is “The Head”, in which a woman discovers a being that speaks to her from the toilet, who calls her “mom” and who claims to be made up of her excrement and other bodily waste. Bora Chung manages to bring an eschatological tale that could have been mistaken for an easy joke to a rounded conclusion. Something similar happens in “The Rule”, the most transparently vindictive story in the book, in which a woman becomes pregnant by taking her contraceptive pills incorrectly, and is pressured by her family and society to find a husband as soon as possible. , because the opposite would be, in short, disastrous. “The Reunion” and “The Cold Fingers” could be included in this group, although they are less original, configuring themselves as fairly traditional ghost stories.

Compared to these stories that would fit, better or worse, in the genre of the fantastic, and that in my opinion make up the best of the book, other stories are located in worlds of fantasy or magic that we relate to wonderful traditional stories or with the which in English is called fantasy. The best of this second group is in my opinion “Scars”, in which a boy is kept prisoner in a cave by a gigantic monster that only visits him to peck him savagely – until the boy manages to escape. I liked “The Trap” a little less, which begins with a chance encounter with a fox that bleeds molten gold, which, as usually happens in these stories, awakens inhuman greed in the man who finds it. “The Master of the Wind and the Earth” is set in an exotic, desert and magical world, in which a ship can fly and a fish can appear buried in the middle of the sand. Finally, isolated from the rest and, in my opinion, in a lower step, is “Goodbye, my love”, a love story between an engineer and a robot that does not seem to me to add much to similar stories by Ted Chiang, or to movies like Her o Ex Machina.

On the whole, there is no doubt that the level of the tales of cursed rabbit is very high, and that this book attests to both the author’s apparently inexhaustible inventiveness and her ability to handle different genres and registers. Nor does it seem to me that there is any doubt that not all the stories are at the same level, nor are all of them equally original. In any case, it is a book that will surely make almost any lover of fantasy, horror or the bizarre enjoy, because it has something for every type of reader.

Source: https://unlibroaldia.blogspot.com/2024/02/bora-chung-conejo-maldito.html

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