First KOR to ENG translation.


Yayyy. And accordingly, the short stories in this collection are published under Aim Han, not Ithaka. Also, the cover looks un-American, even for the English translation:

Whichever is the original language, I use the cover for that original language for the translation as well, if I can. And so far, I could.

Korean book covers (East Asian book covers, in general?) tend to be way more minimalist than American book covers. Sometimes, there is literally just one color and some typography, and that is it. I find those beautiful. Also, they have no problem standing out, or at least mingling, in the Korean book market, it seems. But they would get buried in the American fiction market. (They would look too much like very serious nonfiction books.)

The notable exceptions to the minimalist trend in book covers, in Korea, are translated works–in which case, Korean publishers sometimes use the same covers as the original language–and nonfiction. Yeah, in the case of nonfiction, there seems to be a trend for BIG titles as well as BIG author names. For fiction, it’s a big NONO, it seems, to have big author names–unless, again, you’re a translated author from another country. In those cases, your BIG NAME is allowed, especially if you’re Western! I guess it’s a kind of stereotype, that Western author names can be BIG, cause, like, I don’t know. Westerners!

Meanwhile, for the American market, I’ve hard advice ranging from “Just put your name big letters” to “Don’t be a wuss and JUST BE THE BIG NAME AUTHOR THAT YOU ARE.” In America, if you don’t put your name in big letters, you might come across as an author who writes Literature with Capital L.

Oh, and I like when Korean publishers include the original-language title on the book cover. This is definitely a trend these days. There is very often the Korean title + English title on the cover.

I also appreciate it when Spotify shows both the original-language song title and the translated English title. I mean, come on. It’s the title. It’s important. It’s the thing with which people search for stuff. I need the original title. Please.

That is why for this book, I put the Korean title on the cover of the English translated version, although perhaps many people will simply go “??? What is this ???” Even so, these days, the iPhone lets you copy paste from the photograph. As in, you don’t even have to attempt to type the Korean letters into your browser to search for anything; you just snap a picture and copy directly from that picture and paste that phrase into the browser. How cool is that?


Yeah. Interesting, translating from KOR to ENG. Also, the process of writing these stories was interesting. From the Preface, titled “The How and Why”:

Sometimes I flipped open a paper dictionary at a random place and pointed a finger at the page. At other times, I clicked “Go!” on an online random word generator. Lastly, some friends and family members contributed a word each—never knowing the identities of the other words that I had already collected and would go on to collect in the future.

Whichever way I chose, I lined up the thusly gathered words, neatly, in one row.

Then I cut them up into chunks of three words.

No switching out the words!
No changing the order!
No cheating!

Whatever fate or chance put the words in that order in that line, the game was to tell a story using each given set of three words as is, no matter how ridiculously unrelated the words may seem.

The results are in this collection. They are my maps of random—possibly closer to the workings of my subconscious than any other stories, because I faced the task of connecting the random dots, making sense of the senseless. With great likelihood, I sought comfort in what felt most natural to me. Perhaps I pulled up parts of my dreamscape to the surface of my consciousness.

“Random Word Grotesqueries” by Aim Han

The subtitle for this collection is “six stories, each based on three random words.” Much randomness. Much fun. In hindsight, these days, I find that the process of writing these stories was like getting a tarot reading. The seed words were so random, I could have told any story; but these were the stories I told, and that in and of itself creates meaning. (I do not believe that tarot readings or any fortunetelling tells the “future.” I do believe that such readings say something about the reader, definitely; and depending on the reaction of the client, it also reflects a snapshot of their present. Also, I believe that the future and the past do not exist. Hahaha. There is only the eternal present.)

Anyway again.

There is an English-original version of stories that were born from this process of random-three-seeds writing, titled Agora Phantasmagoria. It’s the exact same process, but that collection has a different title, just because it’s an English original. I have a thing for distinguishing what’s the original language. That was the biggest reason I chose to have two pen names. And I really really most definitely always wanna know the original title, or at least wanna see it, even when I can’t read the language. ☺️