By Kang Hyun-kyung
Life is tough for everyone. We all struggle to make ends meet. Do not blame anyone for your suffering. Face it and try to find ways to get through it without trying in vain to avoid a tough reality.
In his new book, "Bokman's Cargo Truck," released in August, author Goh Gwang-ryul, 57, observes the tough reality of human society. It's a collection of five novels _ both short and mid-length _ including the same title of a short fiction.
|Goh Gwang-ryul, author of "Bokman's Cargo Truck"|
The narrator is a 50-year-old part-time lecturer juggling two to three jobs to make a living and support his wife and two children. After earning a doctoral degree in Korean literature, he teaches students in several colleges, looking for opportunities to become a full-time faculty member. After years of struggles, he realizes becoming a faculty member is a distant dream.
Feeling the pinch during the summer break as he fails to earn income, he explores a new part-time job as a ghost writer.
The narrator signs a contract with a wealthy man, who has assembled a fortune by expanding his business from dental care to private loans and construction, to chronicle his life for a biographical book.
Upon the recommendation from the rich man near the end of finishing the draft, the narrator embarks on a trip to Himalaya to fully focus on the finishing touches of the book. It is a rare perk from the stingy client but is a self-serving offer because his client needs a nice piece.
While driving on his way home from the Incheon International Airport, the narrator gets a phone call from his old friend Bokman and the two set a date to meet at an old bar tucked away in an urban slum in Seoul.
"As for Bokman, no news is good news," the narrator says. "Whenever he calls me, this means he has a problem."
This time, his situation is worse than before. Bokman has had one of his fingers amputated in an industrial accident.
Bokman had landed a labor job years after his multiple unsuccessful endeavors to explore being self-employed _ from owning a used bookstore to a billiard club.
His wife, the younger sister of the narrator, asks Bokman to end their marriage, saying she is sick and tired of a man who has no future. Bokman was a pro-democracy fighter and a leader of student rallies. He also knew how to seduce girls.
That shiny past is gone. Decades after graduation from college, Bokman is struggling to make a decent life.
Facing that bad luck comes in threes, Bokman chooses to pursue a new career as a cargo truck driver.
Goh, like he did in his previous works, addresses anger, injustice and the public's outcry for mercy for the people suffering in his new fiction collection book.
Fiction writer Go Won-jung described Goh's fictions as "raw meat smelling of lots of blood," calling the author "an acid realist" in Korean literature.
Goh says he tries to tell his readers something beyond everyday struggles, encouraging them to face the harsh reality of their lives.
Goh says his literature has been misinterpreted by some critics. "Some say my work is hardboiled fiction dealing with hardcore issues such as resistance, injustice and discrimination," he says.
"It's natural that people face a myriad of challenges while living their lives. Some people play the blame game when things go badly. But I think we had better face the reality and make sincere efforts to get through it, rather than avoiding or blaming others."
Debuting in 1987 as a writer with the publication of his short fiction "The End of Darkness" in the Hoseo Literature magazine, Goh has released several short, mid-length and long fictions. In 2012, he won the Hoseo Literature Award for "The Aged Horn."