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Summary and book reviews of Our Twisted Hero by Yi Munyol

Our Twisted Hero

by Yi Munyol

Our Twisted Hero
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  • Published:
    Feb 2001, 128 pages

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Book Summary

This riveting allegory starts as a simple power play within a children's classroom, but turns into a chilling tale about the lust for power and desperate need for acceptance that reside within us all.

When the twelve-year-old narrator of Our Twisted Hero moves from Seoul to a small provincial town and enrolls in the local school, he's confident that his big-city sophistication will establish him as a natural leader. But he immediately falls victim to a charismatic and corrupt class monitor, who uses fear and violence to keep the other students under his mysterious spell and to assure his own supremacy in the school's social hierarchy. The teacher, grateful to have such a well-behaved class, turns a blind eye to the monitor's abuse of power. As the narrator attempts first to seek justice and then to inspire his fellow students to revolt, he finds himself in a fierce battle not just for his rights, but for his soul. Soon he has set in motion an unexpected and unstoppable chain of events.

This riveting allegory, in the tradition of Lord of the Flies, starts as a simple power play within a children's classroom, but turns into a chilling tale about the lust for power and desperate need for acceptance that reside within us all.

Our Twisted Hero
is Yi Munyol's first book ever to be published in North America. With its classically unadorned style and disturbing insights, it will astound readers unfamiliar with this extraordinary writer of world standing.



IT'S BEEN NEARLY THIRTY YEARS ALREADY, but whenever I look back on that lonely, difficult fight, which continued from the spring of that year through the fall, I become as desolate and gloomy as I was at the time. Somehow in our lives we seem to get into fights like this all the time, and perhaps I get this feeling because to this day I've never really extricated myself from that one.

Around the middle of March that year, when the Liberal Party government was making its last stand, I left the prestigious Seoul elementary school I had proudly attended until then and transferred to a rather undistinguished school in a small town. My whole family had moved there after my father, a civil servant, had become embroiled in an internal departmental row. I was twelve; I had just gone into fifth grade.

When I arrived there that first day, escorted by my mother, I was enormously disappointed, for all sorts of reasons, by S Elementary School. I was used to looking at new school ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Library Journal

This universal tale by one of Korea's most popular novelists adeptly describes the hardships of a child subjected to bullying. The plot is engrossing, the characters well developed, and the translation noteworthy. This is the first of Yi Munyol's work to be published in the United States, and it will very likely not be the last.

Publisher's Weekly

This deceptively innocent tale of psychological warfare between two elementary school students is the brief but forceful U.S. debut of Korea's most popular fiction writer.... This persuasive and morally enlightened novel makes a winning entrance for Munyol into Western readers' imaginations.

Author Blurb Salman Rushdie
Our Twisted Hero lifts the curtain on an unknown (to me, anyway) corner of the world to reveal the universality of human frailty. This delicate, unsentimental tale of bully and victim, of a schoolyard prince's rise and fall, reminded me of Gunter Grass's great novella Cat and Mouse. An absorbing book by a major writer.

Reader Reviews
Anonymous
Rebecca
Thirty years ago Han Pyongt'ae was 12 when he arrived at a dilapidated rural school in Korea.
With no friends or brothers & an aging teacher who prefers the status quo of the class monitor's insidious & implacable totalitarianism, this...   Read More

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