At the end of the Korean War — a long, bloody, and under-memorialized conflict that claimed millions of lives — no real treaty was ever signed. Although there was an armistice in 1953, the nations of North and South Korea remain, technically, still at war. The Demilitarized Zone along the 38th parallel is one of the tensest borders on earth, with thousands of men, tanks and artillery pieces pointed at each other over minefields and barbed wire fences, fingers on triggers 24 hours a day.
A number of remarkable short novels have emerged in the recent past: “Tinkers,” by Paul Harding; “Train Dreams,” by Denis Johnson; “The Sojourn,” by Andrew Krivak; “The Buddha in the Attic,” by Julie Otsuka. Far from slight, they all deal with large themes and subjects that could easily fill 500-page books, yet have been compressed into poemlike works. Page count is one of the most prosaic ways to categorize a book, but it points to the fact that one approaches these works differently — the experience more akin to reading poetry or short fiction, where what is left out is at least as important as what remains. With “Snow Hunters,” Paul Yoon proves himself well suited to the short form.
When I first heard of Paju Bookcity, I imagined a wondrous bibliophilic paradise of human-scaled buildings with legible facades […]