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Cheon Myeong-kwan on tour with Whale

Illustration by Janice Park

Cheon Myeong-kwan toured the West Coast in a whirlwind of readings, signings, and conversations about his International Booker Prize-shortlisted novel Whale on his visit to the United States earlier this month. In Oakland, he was joined by Transit Books co-founder Adam Levy for a celebration of translated literature at Clio’s Bookshop and in Los Angeles, Cheon appeared in conversation with mystery author Naomi Hirahara at North Figueroa Books.

Cheon Myeong-kwan in conversation with Adam Levy at Clio’s Bookshop








Cheon Myeong-kwan with Naomi Hirahara at North Figueroa Books

In Los Angeles, Cheon was joined by Whale‘s translator from the Korean, Chi-Young Kim for an event hosted by PEN America and the Los Angeles Korean Cultural Center.

Cheon Myeong-kwan at the PEN Out Loud event in Los Angeles @ PEN America / Randy Shropshire








Cheon Myeong-kwan discussing Whale with translator Chi-Young Kim @ PEN America / Randy Shropshire

Appearing at the Seattle Public Library, Cheon Myeong-kwan discussed Whale with University of Washington Korean literature scholar Heekyoung Cho. For the last stop on his tour, Cheon visited Dallas, where he was joined in conversation by author and translator Jenny Bhatt in an event hosted by Deep Vellum at the Dallas Contemporary.

Cheon Myeong-kwan with Heekyoung Cho at the Seattle Public Library

Congratulations to Cheon Myeong-kwan and thank you to all the interlocutors, interpreters, booksellers, and more who made this tour possible.



Whale is a rollercoaster adventure through Korean history and culture, a magical and grotesque epic…The plot twists and turns and hurtles along in a way that makes you pleasantly dizzy; the imagery and language in the book are also so rich, with the innocence and darkness of a fairy-tale combined with a playful sense of irony. The translator Chi-Young Kim has done an amazing job, the translation is so dynamic and full of life.

— The International Booker Prize 2023 judges

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