#WITMonth #31: The Impossible Fairy Tale

This is the story of two unexceptional grade-school girls. Mia is “lucky”―she is spoiled by her mother and, as she explains, her two fathers. She gloats over her exotic imported color pencils and won’t be denied a coveted sweater. Then there is the Child who, by contrast, is neither lucky nor unlucky. She makes so little impression that she seems not even to merit a name.

At school, their fellow students seem consumed by an almost murderous rage. Adults are nearly invisible, and the society the children create on their own is marked by cruelty and soul-crushing hierarchies. Then, one day, the Child sneaks into the classroom after hours and adds ominous sentences to her classmates’ notebooks. This sinister but initially inconsequential act unlocks a series of events that end in horrible violence.

Author: Han Yujoo
Translator: Janet Hong
Publisher: Graywolf Press



  1. I swear that every book I read that’s been translated from Japanese ends in horrible violence. WYD, Japan? Is this a representative sample of all the books Japan publishes, or are US publishers prejudiced in favor of horrific violence when choosing Japanese books to translate? WHAT GIVES?

  2. This does sound unsettling – very much in the style of Revenge, a collection of interlinked stories by the Japanese writer Yoko Ogawa. There’s some very interesting fiction coming out of Asia these days, especially Japan and South Korea.

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