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Few Nobel Prize winning books available in Korean

Posted October. 11, 2021 07:21,   

Updated October. 11, 2021 07:21


“We do not plan any promotional session regarding the Nobel Prize in Literature,” said a staff at Kyobo Bookstore located in Gwanghwamun, Seoul, on Sunday when asked if the bookstore carries out any promotion of novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, a Tanzanian refugee, who was awarded the Nobel Prize on Thursday. As none of his books is published in the South Korean market, no promotional event is available as of now. The staff said that few customers look for his book.


After Nobel Literature laureates are announced every year, the publishing industry usually gets busy meeting a sudden uptick in demand among book lovers who intend to buy related books. However, not any piece of Gurnah’s 10 full-length novels and multiple short stories is available in Korean with no promotion campaign in place this year. Only a few original books of his are on the shelves – “Paradise,” a full-length novel nominated finally for the 1994 Booker Prize, one of the top three literature awards in the world, and “By the Sea,” another full-length story on the 1st round of the 2001 Booker Prize. Online booksellers have promotions of Nobel Prize-winning books in place, which is not met with good responses.  

Not any poem collection book of last year’s Nobel Literature Prize winner Louise Glück, a U.S. poet, is available in Korean as well. Instead, some sales promotions unfolded last year thanks to some collection of selected poems including Glück’s pieces available in Korean - Ryu Si-hwa’s “Kidnapped by Poetry” and “Poems with Much Care Paid” and Joyce Park’s collection of selected poems “Siots that I Love.”

This year, however, there is a slim chance of seeing any Nobel Prize-related promotion proceed in the South Korean market. Given that Glück’s poetry books have not yet been published in Korean since she was awarded the prize a year ago, Gurnah’s books will unlikely become available in the near future in South Korea. “We may have lower special marketing opportunities regarding Nobel Prize winning books when laureates’ books are published in Korean at a later time,” said Jin Young-gyun, the brand management team manager at Kyobo Bookstore.