*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Algonquin Books. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Shortlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize
Cursed Bunny is a genre-defying collection of short stories by Korean author Bora Chung.
Blurring the lines between magical realism, horror, and science-fiction, Chung uses elements of the fantastic and surreal to address the very real horrors and cruelties of patriarchy and capitalism in modern society.
Anton Hur’s translation skilfully captures the way Chung’s prose effortlessly glides from being terrifying to wryly humorous.
Graphic, uncomfortable and compulsively readable, this collection of ten short and surreal stories is as impressive as it is disturbing and as disturbing as it is entertaining.
Some of the stories within, like ‘Snare’ or ‘Ruler of the Winds and Sands’, feel like traditional fairytales or myths, as the nameless characters follow their allegorical adventures which illuminate the nature of greed and capitalism, powerlust and imperialism. Others, like ‘The Head’ and ‘The Embodiment’, explore the gritty body horror potentials in pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, and look at who has power over women’s bodies in such scenarios – mother, child, man, society?
There are also poignant ghosts, malfunctioning androids, monsters (although which the monster is in ‘Scars’ is up for debate). And, of course, there is the titular cursed bunny – a fetish that wreaks havoc upon the life of your enemy, but at a cost.
Although there are elements of horror in most of the stories, there is also humour, pathos and some sharply piercing commentary on modern society and the human psyche. Each story has its own unique style, and the translator Anton Hur has done a wonderful job of capturing the lyrical flow of the prose and the beautiful or grotesque imagery.
You can expect surprising twists and shocking revelations, and simple moments of illumination that make you see the story and characters in a different light. If you are looking for stories with depth and imagination that will get you brain revving furiously, then this is the book for you. If you are looking for a quick, easy read full of gross-out moments, chills and paranormal weirdness, then this is also the book for you. You won’t need to sleep with the light on for any of these stories, but you may find yourself checking that the toilet lid is firmly down…
Grandfather used to say, “When we make our cursed fetishes, it’s important that they’re pretty.”– Bora Chung, ‘Cursed Bunny’ in Cursed Bunny
Purchase Link: Cursed Bunny on Amazon
About the author
Bora Chung has written three novels and three collections of short stories. She has an MA in Russian and East European area studies from Yale University and a PhD in Slavic literature from Indiana University. She currently teaches Russian language and literature and science fiction studies at Yonsei University and translates modern literary works from Russian and Polish into Korean.