Milena, Milena, Ecstatic

Translation: Deborah Smith


In Milena, Milena, Ecstatic, Bae Suah conducts a literary dialogue with Franz Kafka, looping the meanings and contexts of events, moving fluidly between the story level and the meta level. The text is built partly like a short story, partly like a movie script, and the main character divides his time between reading books and writing screenplays. Constantly encountering repetitions and connections, the reader falls into a trance and starts to get lost in the details. Bae Suah uses typical Kafkaesque absurd here, but also blurs the boundaries between fiction and reality.

The key to the title story is Kafka’s book Letters to Milena. Milena Jesenská was Kafka’s translator for many years – but also his closest friend and great love. In Bae Suah’s story, the nameless secretary of an organisation takes Milena’s place, and the main character, Hom Yun, takes Kafka’s place. Both are transplanted into the structure of a story that is not their own. The woman keeps asking herself: why am I here if I am not Milena? And Hom Yun: why am I still with this woman? With this procedure, the author creates a typical Kafkaesque story for her characters. Hom Yun likes to pretend that the people he observes actually embody characters from the plays and books he reads and put on a show for him with their lives. Bae Suah makes the same “actor” of Hom Yun by putting him in Kafka’s shoes and observing his anxiety from a distance.

Fans of Bae Suah will find many common elements between Milena, Milena, Ecstatic and her other books published in English, especially Untold Night and Day and Nowhere To Be Found. Despite the small size of the book, its experimental form and plenty of references to books and movies hidden in the text will provide readers with an interesting experience.

The Yeoyu series is a collection of mini books featuring short stories and novellas. Yeoyu (여유) means a place or space, and in this case, the space of free self-discovery, a place where you can breathe and feel at ease. True to its name, the series presents the texts of some of the most interesting Korean writers, often experimental, surprising and unusual. Its counterpart presenting writers from Japan is Keshiki.

Hom Yun is struck by an unidentifiable fear. He feels that the woman is about to say to him: 'Hello, just now I woke from a long faint; I have no memories at all. So if you happen to be someone who knows me, could you tell me who I am?'

Czas oczekiwania: 4-5 weeks





Original title

밀레나 밀레나 황홀한







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