By Michelle Ye, Shaniah Shields and Jia Wen
Dedicated to sharing the literature of East Asia with the rest of the world, Honford Star was co-founded by Anthony Bird and Taylor Bradley in 2016. Both having experience in the publishing industry, Bird from Penguin Random House and Bradley from a printing house in South Korea, they now aid in the publication of various translated texts.
A Limelight on East Asian Literature
Whether it is “classic or contemporary” Honford Star hopes to break down the barriers between East Asian authors and English-language readers. Their logo, the three-legged crow found in many East Asian mythologies, illustrates their dedication to the creative power of the region. The books from Honford Star span genres, from naturalist fiction (Sweet Potato by Kim Tongin) to historically relevant satire (Scales of Injustice by Loā Hô) to aboriginal Taiwanese folklore (Hunter School by Sakinu Ahronglong). Not only does Honford Star consider the content of a book, they also make the effort to find East Asian artists to make their editions as beautiful as their content is moving.
Although Honford Star’s focus is the accessibility of East Asian literature, they also bring attention to other translated works from around the world using their various social media platforms. More information about Honford Star can be found on their social media platforms as well (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube).
Honford Star’s Books in Discussion
Aside from their newest titles (which can be found in both paperback and epub form on their website), the texts published by Honford Star are also the subject of international discussion. These events include a translators roundtable attended by Sophie Bowman, Anton Hur, You Jeong Kim, and more (all translators for The Age of Doubt by Pak Kyongni). More recently, Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung translated by Anton Hur was discussed during the Litfest International Fiction Book Club on 21 November.
East Asian Literature on the Rise
Co-founder of Honford Star Press, Anthony Bird said: “readers who delight in new voices, new literary forms, and want to learn more about the cultural landscape from outside Europe will greatly enjoy the titles.” The popularity for translated fiction has surged in recent years and particularly that of Asian literature. Honford Star Press gives East Asian voices a platform and publishes exciting and original stories. They have achieved a plethora of accolades; most notably, their title Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker International Prize. The book was translated from Korean by Anton Hur who drew inspiration from “some truly astonishing fairy stories written by AS Byatt” for the translation of Cursed Bunny.
In recent news, Honford Star’s latest publications are the Launch Something! by Bae Myung-Hoon and the short story collection The Age of Doubt by Pak Kyongni.
Books Published by Honford Star
Launch Something! by Bae Myung-Hoon, translated by Stella Kim
Written by one of South Korea’s most popular science fiction novelists, Launch Something! a dynamic sci-fi novel with an edge of political satire and filled with clever and sarcastic dialogues. A strange shining object, that looks like Pac-man or a pizza without one slice, is growing in the sky. It has caused a severe heatwave on Earth by reflecting the heat of the Sun. Facing the inevitable risk of Earth becoming uninhabitable, the Korean government joins the US-led Allied Space Force to stop this catastrophe.
The Age of Doubt by Pak Kyongi, translated by Sophie Bowman, Anton Hur, Slin Jung, You Jeong Kim, Paige Aniyah Morris, Mattho Mandersloot, Emily Yae Won, Dasom Yang
Pak Kyongi is one of Korea’s most influential and renowned authors in the 20th century. The Age of Doubt is a compilation of some of her short stories from her vast collection of writings. Set in Seoul during the 1950s and ‘60s, the stories portray women during war time, their burdens and sufferings. The short stories have been translated by seven translators, reviving Pak Kyongi’s work in the English literary scene.
Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur
Honford Star’s most popular book, Cursed Bunny is a collection of ten genre-defying short stories. Just as the cover design has forewarned danger and surrealism, the stories blur lines between magical realism, horror and science fiction. Through these short stories, the book addresses the darkness of modern society’s capitalism and patriarchy.
Astral Season, Beastly Season by Tahi Saihate, translated by Kalau Almony
A fiery, passionate and violent novel about idolising pop stars and the rashness of youth. Two junior high boys, Yamashiro and Morishita are obsessed with a pop idol, Mami Aino. However, when their idol kills her boyfriend and chop him up into pieces both boys rush to free her from punishment by going into violent extremes.
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