by Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada, Illustrated by Ko Hyung-Ju
Iron Circus Comics
A graphic novel about Korea that looks the part, Banned Book Club's action jumps off the page with bold, clear, expressive manhwa (Korean comics) art by Ko Hyung-Jo.
When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family's restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined.
This was during South Korea's Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in.
In Banned Book Club, Hyun Sook shares a dramatic true story of political division, fear-mongering, anti-intellectualism, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading.
Target age: 13 and up
"Highly recommended for readers passionate about activism or political history, or for those who are simply looking for an excellent comic book." -- SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, Starred Review
"From joyous mask dances to bored classrooms to tortuous jail cells, Ko affectingly captures Kim's activist-as-a-young-student journey with an affecting resonance sure to inspire today's youthful generation of tenacious changemakers." -- BOOKLIST, Starred Review
"The messages of hope are universal, as are the poignant reminders that change can happen when people are willing to speak up." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Starred Review
About the Authors:
Kim Hyun Sook was born in Changwon, South Korea. She became a member of a banned book club in the 1980s while studying English Language and Literature. This is her first book. She has co-written comics for websites including The Nib and Oh Joy Sex Toy, and she translated Lady Rainicorn's dialogue for Adventure Time comics. She now runs a new banned book club in Busan, where she lives with her husband, Ryan, and her cat, Dog Baby.
Ryan Estrada is the author of POORCRAFT: WISH YOU WERE HERE, Learn to Read Korean in 15 Minutes, Ryan Made Mistakes, Wish You Were Here, Broken Telephone, Aki Alliance, and many other comics. He started submitting his work to newspapers when he was six years old, and one of those very newspapers finally hired him when he was 16. He has had many adventures around the world since, but the best thing he ever did was marry Kim Hyun Sook.