There’s a certain allure to reading a book about bookshops, which may explain why Hwang Bo-Reum’s Welcome To The Hyunam-Dong Bookshop is a Korean bestseller. For many, owning such an establishment would be a farfetched dream – but it becomes a reality for Yeongju when she abandons her hectic career and marriage to open a store in Seoul.
Finding her feet in a small neighbourhood, Yeongju soon starts to grow the business, becoming a community hub for many local inhabitants: lonely barista Minjun, Jimi the unhappily married coffee roaster and the unexpected writer Seungwoo. The power of books and the space they reside in is evident, capturing the social connections between different characters and the individual connections with the written works.
There are philosophical elements to Welcome To The Hyunam-Dong Bookshop: finding a place to belong, enjoying the everyday, and reflections on the work-life balance (a topical theme, with South Korea currently possessing one of the longest average working weeks). An inviting read for cosy season, it’s difficult not to feel inspired and rushing for the comfort of your nearest independent bookshop after reading this debut novel.
Welcome To The Hyunam-Dong Bookshop, Hwang Bo-reum [trans. Shanna Tan] (Bloomsbury)
Price: £13.49/£8.99 paperback/£10.49 Ebook/£7.99 PDF. Info: here
words RHIANON HOLLEY