Soon-rye, a middle-aged woman from provincial city, rides a train to Seoul to stay overnight at her daughter's home on a day in March. She silently watches her own daughter, who, unlike herself, does not want to marry or have children of her own. Soon-rye respects the daughter's attitude as she resolutely walks the path she wants, even though the daughter says she will quit slave-drive job. This does not mean, however, that Soon-rye is denying her life after getting divorced from her husband. Soon-rye is hesitant to move in with her current boyfriend for realistic reasons, but calmly ponders whether she is even in a position of dreaming her life with her boyfriend. This is the story of Jon’s short story ‘Passenger.’
Writer Jeon Gyeong-lin (60, photo), who recently published her fifth novel collection ‘Goodbye R,’ depicts the opposite of the typical middle-aged women we see in soap operas. The middle-aged women in the novel are not housewives who peel and slice fruit for their families every evening, nor are they career women recognized by corporations, but they are not ashamed of their lives. "I was curious about the stories of those who go their own way and create the present in their lives, rather than middle-aged women who lead a typical and predictable life,” the author said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
“The number of women living alone is increasing for various reasons, such as being single, divorced, and unmarried. Single-person households, which used to be rare, are becoming commonplace,” Jeon said. “It is for this reason that I portrayed the image of a middle-aged woman who has been divorced or has let go of her family. I was inquisitive if middle-aged women could be truly satisfied and happy just by seeing their children lead a well-to-do life.”
Jeon, who debuted after winning in the Medium-length fiction section of the Dong-A Ilbo Sinchunmunye (annual literary contest) in 1995, has been named a writer who delicately and accurately captures the emotion of love. In this novel collection, however, love is not a priority for the middle-aged women featured in the seven mid-length and short stories. Because for them, bidding farewell is like going to the other side of the platform with a bag to transfer and getting used to it (from the short fiction 'Iris'), and finding the purpose of life while traveling is more important than anything else (from the medium-length fiction, 'Goodbye R').
“In this novel collection, the ranking of love has been pushed back, because I tried to depict a woman to be self-reliant and individualistic,” the author said.