Mater 2-10

Mater 2-10

by Hwang Sok-yong

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International Booker–nominated virtuoso Hwang Sok-yong is back with another powerful story — an epic tale that threads together a century of Korean history.

Translated by Sora Kim-Russell, Youngjae Josephine Bae

In contemporary Seoul, a laid-off worker stages a months-long sit-in atop a sixteen-storey factory chimney. During the long and lonely nights, he talks to his ancestors, chewing on the meaning of life, on wisdom passed down the generations.

Through the lives of those ancestors, three generations of railroad workers, Mater 2-10 vividly portrays the struggles of ordinary Koreans, starting from the Japanese colonial era, continuing through Liberation, and right up to the twenty-first century. It is at once a gripping account of a nation’s longing to be free from oppression, a lyrical folktale that reflects the blood, sweat, and tears shed by modern industrial labourers, and a culmination of Hwang’s career — a masterpiece thirty years in the making.

A true voice of a generation, Hwang shows again why he is unmatched when it comes to depicting the roots and reality of a divided nation and bringing to life the trials and tribulations of the Korean people.