The Dwarf / Edition 1 available in Paperback
The dark side of South Korea’s "economic miracle" emerges in The Dwarf, Cho Se-hui’s enormously popular and critically acclaimed work. First published in 1978, it speaks to the painful social costs of reckless industrialization, even as it tellingly portrays the spiritual malaise of the newly rich and powerful and a working class subject to forces beyond its control. Cho’s lean, clipped, deceptively simple style, the rapidly shifting points of view, terse dialogue, and subtle irony evoke the particularities of life in 1970s South Korea in the presence of global economic forces.
The desperate realities of life for the dwarf, the proverbial little guy upon whose back Korea’s economic transformation largely took place, are emotively rendered in twelve linked stories examining the lives of a laboring family, a family of the newly emerging middle class, and that of a wealthy industrialist. The stories have overlapping characters and situations: the murder of a swindler, a family’s eviction from a squatter settlement, the assassination of an important executive, the dwarf ’s fantasy of a planet where life is easier, his later suicide and the subsequent fate of his dispersed friends and family members.
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I enthusiastically recommend the Korean novel The Dwarf. A modern classic set in the industrial Korea of the 1970s, The Dwarf is an imaginative cross between stark socio-political fiction and magical realism, used to deeply moving effect. It has taken many years for the English translation to find a publisher and I hope it will be picked up by many readers, who will, I’m sure, treasure their encounter with the dwarf’s family.