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Fall 2018: Bad Friends by Ancco

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BAD FRIENDS BY ANCCO, TRANSLATED BY JANET HONG

IN STORES SEPTEMBER 25

A story of the enduring quality of female friendship amid a gritty landscape of abuse

Jinju is bad. She smokes, drinks, runs away from home, and has no qualms about making her parents worry. Her mother and sister beg her to be a better student, sister, daughter; her beleaguered father expresses his concerns with his fists. Bad Friends is set in the 1990s in a South Korea torn between tradition and Western modernity and haunted by an air of generalized gloom. Cycles of abuse abound as the characters enact violence within their power structures: parents beat children, teachers beat students, older students beat younger students. But at each moment that the duress verges on bleakness, Ancco pulls back with soft moments of friendship between Jinju and her best friend, Jung-ae. What unfolds is a story of female friendship, a Ferrante-esque connection formed through youthful excess, malaise, and struggle that stays with the young women into adulthood.

Served by a dry and precise line, Bad Friends viscerally captures the adolescent years of two young women who want and know they deserve something different, but, ultimately, are unable to follow through. In a culture where young women are at a systemic disadvantage, Ancco creates a testimonial to female friendship as a powerful tool for survival. Jinju forgets her worst adolescent memories, but she cannot ever shake the memory of her friendship with Jung-Ae during her most tumultuous years.

Paperback | 176 pgs | black & white | $19.95 USD/ $21.95 CAD

About the translator: Janet Hong is an award-winning writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. Her translations include Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale (Graywolf Press, 2017) and Ha Seong-nan’s The Woman Next Door (forthcoming from Open Letter Books in 2019). She is currently long listed for the 2018 PEN Translation Prize.

This is part of our fall 2018 announcements. Read on for an excerpt from Bad Friends and check out our previous announcements: Aminder Dhaliwal's Woman World, Julie Doucet's Dirty Plotte, Lisa Hanawalt's Coyote Doggirl, and Jason Lutes's Berlin.