PRI’s The World on The Curious Case of Mandogi’s Ghost

Mandogi's GhostThe Web site, PRI’s The World consistently reviews books in translation that other mainstream publications might overlook. Recently, they discussed two “horror” novels, one from Iran, The Blind Owl, and one from Japan, The Curious Case of Mandogi’s Ghost by Kim Sok-Pom.

Kim was a zainichi, meaning a name attributed to individual living in Japan but of foreign ancestry (Kim was Korean). This the reviews suggests imbues the book with an “existential sense of humanity lost somewhere betwixt and between – between colonial subject and colonizer, human and inhuman, heaven and hell. The book appears be an “inspiring” yarn of the marginal (perhaps in ghostly form) striking back at the tyrannical, but it consistently undercuts being a simple allegory of good versus evil, suggesting that sin has spread to the point that ‘heaven and earth are full of bitter spirits who keep screaming and searching for something…'”

The review concludes:

Kim balances … a number of emotional tones, from the fractured fairy tale doings of Mandogi’s life in the temple to his truly bizarre sexual encounters, instances of apocalyptic terror giving way to wry comedy…. The Curious Tale of Mandogi’s Ghost succeeds as a very dark black comedy, almost Swiftian in its ferocity. Even “ghosts,” such as the hapless Mandogi, have to rethink how they go about frightening flesh-and-blood targets who have been coarsened by unspeakable atrocities…For Kim, the barbarity of the 20th century meant reinventing the ghost story.

Leave a Reply