Art And Culture

Novel on Gwangju Uprising in Persian

South Korean troops clamp down on citizens during  the Gwangju Uprising.South Korean troops clamp down on citizens during  the Gwangju Uprising.

‘Human Acts,’ a book by the winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize for fiction, will soon be released in Persian.

Iranian author and translator Ali Qane, based in Qazvin, has completed the Persian translation of Human Acts, a 2016 book by South Korean writer Han Kang, 46.

“I delivered the translation of the novel to Chatrang Publication (a publishing house in Tehran dealing mainly in literature and cinema). The process of preparation for the book, including the permission for publication, is complete. The novel will be released soon,” Qane, 53, told Mehr News Agency.

In Human Acts, Kang tells the stories of survivors and victims of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising in the city of Gwangju, South Korea, where a large number of people were killed by General Chun Doo-hwan’s government troops while demonstrating against the government.

When Park, South Korea’s military dictator, was assassinated in 1979, civil unrest ensued and martial law was imposed. Workers protested their working conditions. Greater democratization was called for and the increasingly authoritarian government responded in traditional fashion.

On 18 May 1980, protesting students at Chonnam National University in Gwangju were fired upon and beaten by government troops. Outrage was widespread and people from all walks of life took to the streets in solidarity.

Special forces were sent in but, rather than calming the situation, the soldiers spurred on to ever greater acts of brutality by their superiors, clubbed and bayoneted students, and fired live rounds into the crowds.

By 27 May it was over. Figures for civilian deaths remain disputed, from anywhere between the military number of 200 and the 2,000 estimated by foreign press reports. What is not disputed is the appalling cruelty inflicted on those tortured by police in the aftermath, the long shadow the uprising still casts across the South Korean consciousness.

Gwangju happens to be the author’s hometown. Her family had moved to Seoul by the time of the uprising.  None of her relatives were killed, but Dong-ho, a 15-year-old boy who was part of the family who bought their house, was; and it is this death that functions as both entry and exit wound for the novel, according to a review by The Guardian.  

Other translations by Qane include ‘Black Girl/White Girl,’ a 2006 novel by American writer Joyce Carol Oates, 79; and ‘Room,’ a 2010 novel by Irish-Canadian author, literary historian and screenwriter Emma Donoghue, 47.

Qane’s own writings include the novelette ‘Rahpeymayi ruye Mah’ (March on Moon) and the short story collection of ‘Vasvasehaye Ordibehesht’ (Temptations of May).

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