Home 5 Articles and Reports 5 Seoul Book Fair Explores ‘Nonhuman’ Theme

Seoul Book Fair Explores ‘Nonhuman’ Theme

 

Under the thought-provoking theme of “Nonhuman,” Seoul International Book Fair kicked off on 14th June, aiming to challenge anthropocentric perspectives. The Korean Publishers Association enthusiastically invited attendees to engage with and explore the nonhuman world, reflecting our changing outlook amidst pressing global crises such as climate change, extinctions, and ecological imbalances.

The fair featured a wide range of talks, exhibitions, and events, all dedicated to delving into the complex issues we face today. By encouraging dialogue and understanding, the event sought to foster a new balance between humans and the diverse array of animals, plants, and objects that coexist with us.

Book lovers from all corners of the country flocked to the five-day event, eagerly attending a multitude of lectures, talks, seminars, and exhibitions led by more than 210 guest speakers and 530 publishers from 36 nations.

The lineup of distinguished speakers included literary figures such as Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Sympathizer,” which has inspired an upcoming historical black comedy HBO series directed by Park Chan-wook. Nguyen discussed Asian diasporic literature in America, offering a unique perspective on cultural experiences.

Yann Martel, celebrated for his Booker Prize-winning masterpiece “Life of Pi,” captivated the audience with his profound insights. Another notable participant was Cheon Myeong-kwan, who was shortlisted for this year’s International Booker Prize for his work “Whale.” Additionally, Korean American writer Kim Ju-hea shared the backdrop of occupied Korea in the early 20th century through her debut novel “Beasts of a Little Land.” Translator Anton Hur, who received two nominations for the 2022 International Booker Prize, provided valuable insights into the world of literary translation.

Various sessions centered around the theme of “Nonhuman” were thoughtfully designed to broaden attendees’ perspectives. Behavioral ecologist and academic Choe Jae-chun delivered a captivating lecture on the future of animals in a world without humans, offering a glimpse into the potential ecological scenarios that may unfold. Paris-based sociologist Nikolaj Schultz presented a seminar exploring the climate emergency through his new philosophical travelog, “Mal de Terre.”

One of the highlights was the collective lecture titled “Literature as Nonhumans,” led by six acclaimed Korean fiction writers: Cheon Seon-ran, Pyun Hye-young, Oh Jung-hee, Kim In-suk, Kim Ae-ran, and Choi Eun-young. Their compelling insights shed light on the profound impact of literature on our understanding of the nonhuman world.

In addition to engaging discussions and lectures, visitors had the opportunity to explore the main theme through a special exhibition featuring 600 curated books categorized under five keywords: disappearance, resistance, acceleration, intersection, and possibility. This interactive exhibition allowed attendees to discover their own perspectives on the nonhuman realm.

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, was honored as the guest country of the fair. The emirate showcased contemporary Arab literature, delving into its publishing market, the clique culture of Arab writers, and journalism in Sharjah.

As part of the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Korea, Canada was selected as the spotlight country. The Canadian delegation presented books in English, French, and Korean from approximately 30 publishers, adding an international flair to the fair.

 

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