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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Hello,” a voice greeted Yun Seo on her way into the building, and they exchanged bows. It was Pyung Jin Lee, a book critic who had been rising to fame because of his TV appearance.
“I enjoy watching your show quite a bit, Mr. Lee.”
“You’re too kind, Mrs. Baek.”
They walked together since the two were headed to the same place, and his yellow necktie dangled about.
“We haven’t met since the recent reading.”
Pyung Jin was one of the judges for the Dong Kyung Literary Award that year. Consisting of four novelists and three critics, judges met monthly for a reading and discussed their opinions on the books that were published that year. So far, the candidates were narrowed down to fifteen, and the time to choose the final candidate had finally come.
“Which do you think will be the top four?”
“It’s hard to say,” Yun Seo said, keeping her answers brief.
Every single candidate that would be chosen by the judges came at the result of the author’s blood, sweat, and tears. While there was no such a thing as ranking in literature, the very existence of an award had the effect of attaching numbers to everything associated with it.
“I look forward to finding out who will be the recipient of this year’s honor.”
Yun Seo smiled bitterly at Pyung Jin’s remark. Yet, awards existed, and they were sought after by many. Winning a literary award brought honor to its recipient, and the Dong Kyung Literary Award was especially significant. It didn’t matter if an author was a rookie or veteran, or the length or the content of their work. The award would be judged based solely on its literary value.
“This year is special,” Pyung Jin said excitedly. “We might have the youngest winner ever.”
The fifteen authors of the fifteen candidate books were almost all in their thirties, and each and every one of them stood out that year. Among them, was a person who stuck out like a sore thumb.
There had been prodigies in the literary world. While some showed talent in language and others the capacity to write something with significant literary value, it took years for those prodigies to be able to write a respectable story. Yet, Yun Woo wrote his second book within a year of his first book being published. On top of that, it shocked its readers with its outstanding content.
“Who would’ve thought that he’d bloom into such a beautiful flower?”
He was referring to ‘The Sound of Wailing.’ Remembering his critique of the book, Yun Seo asked, “Coming to think of it, you weren’t very excited about Yun Woo’s debut, right?”
“I suppose you can say that, at least until I read his second book anyway,” he admitted quietly. He was not fond of younger authors. Yun Woo definitely knew how to approach human emotions with utmost purity, and there was no doubt that we was an excellent writer. His book was far too complex for his age, yet it was a book that could only be written at his age. Pure content and seasoned writing, those were some of the defining qualities of Yun Woo’s debut title.
“His image as a star was more apparent than his image as an author.”
Pyung Jin believed that the masses had vastly overestimated the young author, and that even the critics were blinded by his uniqueness. He was convinced that Yun Woo was taking advantage of his widely perceived image of being a genius.
“Yet, I couldn’t have been more wrong.”
“I was underestimating him as an author.”
Yun Woo was an author who had remained anonymous and published his second book, ‘The Sound of Wailing,’ within a year. Pyung Jin thought that he would follow the trails of the authors who vanished from the literary world, leaving only their debut title. Writing tended to be merciless. It robbed every last bit of authors who were content with their own talents. Then, the work came out into the world and never to fade away.
“‘The Sound of Wailing’ was excellent. I believe that it surpassed the predecessor by far. It’s deeper and more potent. Rather than falling on his face, he matured. Sometimes, I wonder if he’s made a deal with the devil.”
Pyung Jin knew nothing about Yun Woo. He didn’t know what he looked or sounded like, and that was fueling the fear within him. “What if he’s not like what I expected?”
Yun Seo smiled cheerfully at his remark.
“You’re starting to sound a little biased.”
“I can say things like that because I’m with you, Mrs. Baek. You’re level-headed even with your pupils’ works.”
“I respect my pupils.”
For authors, there was no significance in winning an award with the help of their teacher. If anything, it was an act of insult toward another author.
As they conversed, they reached their destination, and the two walked into the room. A large, U-shaped table came into view. Other judges who had arrived prior to them rose from their seats simultaneously in order to greet Yun Seo. As they caught up with each other, the door closed at the previously agreed time.
“Ladies and gentleman, we will now proceed to vote for the final candidate for the Dong Kyung Literary Award,” one of the judges said, and the voting began.
“The result is in.”
Yun Seo sat and listened quietly. The judge started with the work that received the most votes.
“Most voted: Yun Woo’s ‘The Sound of Wailing.'”
The room sank with calmness, masking the strong sense of excitement. Yun Seo shared that sentiment with all of the other judges in the room. Amid the odd tension, the judge moved on to announce the next candidate.
“Seo Joong Ahn’s ‘One Room.'”
Yun Seo nodded quietly. His book was quite good.
“Dae Soo Na’s ‘The Finger that Rings the Bell.'”
Pyung Jin moaned quietly as he was reminded of a grotesque scene in that book.
“And lastly, Soon Soo Bong’s ‘I Remember the Lightning from that Day.’ These four stories were chosen as the final candidates for the final evaluation.”
Yun Seo studied the results. The votes were focused noticeably on one author.
“This year’s results are turning out to be quite odd,” a judge said. Usually, the votes would be equally distributed for the most part, making it difficult to choose. However, that pattern was about to change.
“‘The Sound of Wailing’ seems to be the strongest candidate.”
“What happens when Yun Woo wins?”
“He’d be the youngest author to have won.”
The votes were focused on Yun Woo. Having voted for him herself, Yun Seo didn’t have anything to add. Being one of the most significant literary awards in the country, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the Dong Kyung Literary Award was the highest honor an author could receive for a full-length novel. Other judges chimed in, however.
“Mr. Bong tends to focus on the expressions. His sentences are excellent, and it makes me envy him every time I read them. It stood out that the story unfolds from the perspective of a twisted individual, questioning the foundation of life.”
“Reading ‘The Finger that Rings the Bell’ was like a roller-coaster ride. It’s very easy to read, yet the sentences have weight. I think Dae Soo Na is one of the best when it comes to striking that fine balance. Although, I can’t deny that it’s a bit excessive in places.”
“Mr. Ahn published a book that’s different from his previous books, and I gotta say that it’s rather distant from the stories he’s been writing. The result of that change, however, was a success. It was refreshing to see such a closed-off story from him.”
The turn went to Yun Seo, and she slowly opened her mouth and said, “Yun Woo is…”
All eyes were on her. Yun Woo. While he was alone, he was special, and for that reason, he drew a significant amount of attention. However, the Dong Kyung Literary Award was given to a book, not its author. Yun Seo corrected herself, “Yun Woo’s writing tends to be rather potent.”
His books had a lasting impact on the readers. It was not watered down by any stretch of imagination. After reading it, one couldn’t simply get rid of the experience. Things would never be the same. The impact lingered in the readers’ hearts and continued to affect them.
“It puts me in an awkward place.”
“Sigh,” Nam Kyung let out heavily. He had been glaring at the phone in front of his eyes for the last thirty minutes.
“Nam Kyung, relax,” said Mr. Maeng, but that proved to be of little help. If he were in Nam Kyung’s shoes, he might have been just as nervous when the author he’d been working with was on the verge of being the youngest winner of an award of nationwide recognition.
“I might be getting a call. I feel like I’m being crushed by my own anticipation.”
“Are you sure you’re not celebrating too soon? What if another author ends up getting the award?”
“Don’t be like that now,” Nam Kyung said, still glaring at his phone piercingly.
Shaking his head, Mr. Maeng returned to his task. However, his concentration was short-lived as the desk shook uncontrollably.
“You’re shaking your legs.”
“How can I not?!”
With that, Mr. Maeng threw his hands up in the air. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the entire company was in the same state Nam Kyung was in. If Yun Woo were to actually win the award, the impact would be all the more powerful. The phrase ‘Winner of the Dong Kyung Literary Award’ would follow after every copy of ‘The Sound of Wailing,’ and people would buy the book without even knowing about the award. The sales would jump drastically, and the publishing company would be even busier.
“We might be able to get further ahead of ‘The Language of God.'”
There was a book that had been on the rise at a frightening rate. It was a book called ‘The Language of God.’
“It’s ranked number one in genre novels, right? It’s picking up at a threatening speed, and it’ll sell even more.”
Being a rather long book, Nam Kyung hadn’t gotten around to reading it himself. However, he had been hearing about it quite often. It was a book that showcased its own unique, finely detailed world. From the villages visited by the characters to the stores, there was nothing crude about the book.
The only reason why Nam Kyung knew so much about the book was because of his coworker, Mr. Maeng, who was an avid fantasy novel fan.
“‘The Language of God’ is incredible. It’s been a while since I’ve read about such an enormous world. At the same time, the details are just fascinating. The language used in that book has a structure that’s both delicate and flawless. There are people who actually learned it, so I tried to learn it myself, but it was a tad too difficult for me. And the characters! There’s a clear sense of direction in their quest, so it makes it really exciting for the readers. They come across all sorts of people and events, and the characters become more three-dimensional in the process. Translating the mythology and the history within the book is also fun in its own way.”
“I know nothing about the book. Never read it.”
“Are you telling me that you haven’t read the one book that’s threatening ‘The Sound of Wailing?'”
“You know how busy I am. Where’d you find the time to read such a long book anyway?”
“I sacrificed my sleep.”
Applying eye drops to his dry, tired eyes, Mr. Maeng kept on.
“I liked also Won Yi’s new work about a girl who believes in destiny. It was such pure literature. I personally believe that Won Yi Young was a literature major.”
With that, he suddenly stopped talking.
“What made you stop?”
“Coming to think of it, there’s something about him that resembles Yun Woo.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah. What could it be? Is Won Yi Young a fan of Yun Woo? Maybe he was heavily influenced by him considering that his book came out after the Yun Woo fever?”
Listening half-heartedly, Nam Kyung checked the time. Any minute now.
“They’re taking a while.”
“May be the evaluation is going longer than planned,” Mr. Maeng said as he looked at the shaking desk.
At that moment, the voice of the editor-in-chief sounded in the distance, “Still?”
“Yes,” Mr. Maeng answered on Nam Kyung’s behalf.
“Make sure your phones are connected!” the editor-in-chief said.
“Don’t worry, we made thorough checks. As long as we don’t lose electricity, we should be able to hear the news without any issue,” Nam Kyung answered as he pulled up his glasses.
“Would you please stop shaking your legs, then?”
“C’mon… any minute now,” the editor-in-chief grumbled.
At that moment, the phone rang. Everyone focused on it anxiously. However, it was not Nam Kyung’s phone that rang.
“Ah, yes. Mr. Woo,” Mr. Maeng answered the phone.
It was one of the regular calls asking about Yun Woo. Once he hung up, he felt like his strength had left his body, and he buried his head on his desk, shaking.
Everything stopped at that moment.
“The moment of truth.”
The phone broke the silence. Nam Kyung calmly brought the receiver up to his ear, and after responding repeatedly, he hung up.
The loud sound of cheering filled the room.
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