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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Come again?” Sophia asked, furrowing her forehead.
Ethan added without hesitation, “If a man in his forties wrote a book like that, he couldn’t have drawn that much attention.”
Sophia chuckled at his words.
“You know so much about the author for someone who’s never read his book.”
“It’s obvious. I heard some professor had some pretty harsh things to say.”
“Criticism isn’t everything though.”
“They do exist for a reason.”
“OK, are you aware that there are also professors who praised Yun Woo highly?”
“Oh… That I didn’t know, but I can tell that you really like him.”
“And you don’t.”
“I can’t stand how people are worshipping him, calling him things like genius.”
“They’re not worshipping him.”
“OK, guys. That’s enough,” James intervened, and Ethan let up.
“Well, I have no recollection of being invited to a literary society or anything. C’mon guys, it’s been a while. Let’s talk about something else.”
“This isn’t just about the book,” Sophia said.
And Charlotte added with a smile, “Whether you like him or not, there’s no one as sensational as Yun Woo in the literary world currently. ‘Trace of a Bird’ was a debut title. He’s rising to fame with his debut title. An author is essentially the equivalent of his country’s image, like John E. Steinbeck or Edgar Allan Poe. So, that makes our conversation…”
“OK, OK, I get it. Should we all go to the bookstore or something?”
The cymbals sounded in the distance, and the performance was reaching its climax. In a calmer tone, Sophia opened her mouth and said, “Well, should we change the subject for Ethan’s sake?”
“Yeah. I’ll tell you about what happened to me this past week, James. You don’t know yet, right?”
Just like that, the conversation moved on. Because they had conflicting personalities, Sophia and Ethan tended to get into heated arguments from time to time. The fact that they had remained friends was a miracle.
Some time later, after making plans to go to the bookstore with his friends, James ended up running into the very person he had intentionally left out: Ethan.
“So, what brings you here?”
In between Sophia and Charlotte who were smiling proudly for a unknown reason, Ethan said, “Yun Woo is the best author there is.”
“Congratulations on winning the Dong Kyung Literary Award, Mr. Woo!”
“Thank you,” Juho answered Nabi light-heartedly.
“No matter how many times I’m here, this is a rather unique place to have a meeting,” she added as she looked around. They were at the botanical garden. Usually, a meeting like that would take place in an office, studio, cafe, or a private room in a restaurant.
Then, the door sounded open and a man walked in. His face appeared under the vines. It was Nam Kyung.
“I’d consider this to be a private room. It’s attached to the botanical garden,” Juho told Nam Kyung.
“I’ve never been here, so I got a little lost,” he said as he closed the squeaky door, looking around at his surroundings. “I didn’t know this place existed.”
Past the tall banana trees, there was something that resembled a door that also looked like a large leaf or part of the wall. It was the same door that Nam Kyung had come in through.
The place was occupied by a hefty wooden table, chairs, and a vending machine.
“Not many people know about this place aside from the security guard and the custodian.”
Juho looked around and saw a long, skinny pot that was filled with nothing but dirt. Empty flower pots were lined up like works of pottery. Surrounded by translucent walls, that place had been used for potted plants exhibitions at one point.
“The potted plants weren’t all that popular, so they converted it into a resting area, but there’s a snazzy cafe next to the garden’s entrance now, so that’s probably where people prefer to be. Besides, I’m sure most people prefer a well-brewed cup of coffee over one from a coffee machine.”
“How you found this place is still beyond me.”
Juho had recently come to discover the place while on his walk. He visited the botanical garden frequently, yet the door managed to remain hidden from his sight. He had just recently opened the door that had existed even before his death and revival. Despite the number of years he had lived, he had never opened that door until that moment.
“I opened it out of curiosity at first, and that’s when I locked eyes with a custodian. He asked me to come and use it whenever I could because he felt like the place was being abandoned when there was no sign of it being off limits.”
“That makes sense.”
Nabi remembered the time when she opened the old, black door for the first time. The door handle gave her a sense of uneasiness, and with the place filled by plants, dirt and the damp air, it seemed like a perfect haven for insects. The door was covered in long vines, giving an unwelcoming look.
However, in reality, it was a rather ordinary place. Despite the empty flower pots and flowerbeds, it looked noticeably difference from the inside. Nabi found herself growing fond of the place already. Every breath she took was seasoned by the fragrance of nature.
“It’s warm throughout the year in here because of the plants.”
“There’s a vending machine in here too, so we can have ourselves a cup of tea whenever we desire. Nam Kyung, join us.”
Before joining Nabi and Juho, Nam Kyung walked toward the vending machine. Black, Latte, Light, Iced. He saw the thick letters written on the buttons.
“I recommend Job’s tears.”
With Juho’s recommendation, Nam Kyung put in thirty cents and pushed the button. The cup fell out, and it was quickly filled with a liquid, spreading about its nutty fragrance. It was a scent that took him back. If Nam Kyung had been in Juho’s shoes, he wouldn’t have even thought about opening the door and seeing what was on the other side.
“Everytime we meet, it feels like we get to share a secret with you, Mr. Woo.”
With a warm cup in his hands, Nam Kyung took a seat. Though the chair was a tad too rigid, it was still comfortable.
“I agree. It feels like we’re in a secret garden.”
The three conversed as they sipped their tea. With an editor and publishing agent in the same place, the topic was a rather predictable one.
“So, Kelley Coin’s come out with a new book.”
“Yes, our company got the rights to publish it. I heard you were a big help.”
“It was chaos. It was a mud fight between all of the companies that had made an offer, essentially. I really had to stay on top of my game…”
Having made an offer through the Imperst Agency, Zelkova Publishing Company came out on top after a fierce competition. While Nam Kyung had been busy with Yun Woo’s book at the time, the entire company was celebrating their victory.
“… Although the almighty Kelley Coin ended up being pushed aside by Yun Woo,” Nabi said as she smiled brightly.
“The number one bestseller nationwide is ‘The Sound of Wailing,’ while the ‘Trace of a Bird’ is second. These books are flying off the shelves because of the award. On top of that, ‘Trace of a Bird’ has also caught a second wind when the fever was starting to die down because of the progress of the film adaption.”
“There’s much to be grateful for.”
“It’s today, right?” Nam Kyung asked as he took a sip of his tea.
Everyone there knew immediately what he meant.
“The day when ‘The Sound of Wailing’ is being published in the US?”
“Fernand sent us an offer about publishing Yun Woo’s second book. His books have already been proven with numbers, so they’re picking it up much sooner than I’d anticipated!” Nabi said with sparkling eyes and then took her phone out of her bag to search for something on the internet.
“‘Trace of a Bird’ made it to the top ten in the entire American market. Not in some subclassification, but in the overall market. It’s on the rise across the globe, including the US, England, France, Germany, and fifteen other countries. It’s simply mind-boggling.”
Her hand shook while holding her phone. Sixteen years old. Two hundred thousand copies of the first edition. There were quite a few eye-catching elements. Even the content of the book was something that was relatable to the entire world.
“But it seems to be receiving mixed reviews,” Juho said. After a brief moment of hesitation, Nabi shook her head and said, “The overall reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. That’s also what’s making the minority opinions stand out more.”
An American professor had openly criticized the book once, describing ‘Trace of a Bird’ as a journal written by a child. It was rather sarcastic, and it was obvious that he wasn’t willing to acknowledge the book as literature. Yun Woo’s age was a double-edged sword. The massive attention came at the expense of trust. Nabi was frustrated, but the opportunity had finally come.
“‘The Sound of Wailing’ will be leaving Korea today.”
The book had much more depth than its predecessor. While it was not as pure, it was apparent that Yun Woo had matured as an author. It was more than enough to prove those who looked down on him for his age wrong. Would the same professor be able to criticize it in the same way?
“Oh! I just remembered something. Have you heard?” Nam Kyung asked. His cup was nearly empty, and Nabi and Juho turned their eyes in his direction. “There’s another book that’s been on the rise recently.”
“It’s a genre novel, but I’ve been hearing a lot about it. Apparently, it has an enormous universe.”
Juho slowly brought his cup up to his mouth. He had an idea of what Nam Kyung was talking about.
“Ah! I think I know what you’re talking about. ‘The Language of God,’ right?”
‘Bingo,’ Juho thought while remaining silent.
“I haven’t read it yet. What’s it like?” Nabi asked.
“I haven’t read it either, but from what I hear, it’s about a quest. Apparently, it’s somewhere between a heroic and a narrative fantasy.”
“You seem to know quite a bit about the book.”
“I have a coworker who’s really into fantasy novels. Thanks to him, I’ve been hearing about it nonstop along with his daily recommendation.”
Nam Kyung’s cup crumpled up as he clenched his hand into a fist.
“I’ve heard that the author is incredibly detailed with language. There’s a group of people who think that the book was written by a working professor. It’s not entirely absurd considering that it happens from time to time. Although, I’m not really sure why the author’s choosing to stay anonymous.”
“Won Yi Young, right?”
“It just made into top ten, so it’ll sell even more.”
With that, Nabi looked at Juho and asked, “How about you Mr. Woo? Have you read it?”
Juho’s head leaned to the side for a brief time.
“I suppose you can say that.”
“How was it?”
“Hm, it’s hard to say.”
As Juho dragged on, Nam Kyung interjected, “Coming to think of it, I heard that it’s similar to your books. Is that why you read it?”
Instead of giving an answer, Juho smiled quietly.
“What’s with the smile? It’s making me uneasy,” Nam Kyung said.
Looking unusually excited, a coworker had been pouring out praises about a certain book, and since then, Nam Kyung had been hearing the same thing on a daily basis.
He organized what he knew in his head. ‘The Language of God’ carried a significant presence among avid fans, and it was selling at an increasing rate. The publishing company was avoiding answering any questions regarding the author while the author himself remained anonymous and wrote in a similar style to Yun Woo’s. Yun Woo and Won Yi. They were two different authors. Yet, they were similar. There was potential for it to evolve into a sensitive issue in an industry where personality was an essential factor. According to his experience, Juho’s smile had never been something to be trusted.
“Are you angry?”
“Are you being defensive?”
Juho laughed yet again, and Nam Kyung realized that he had misjudged him. ‘There’s something there. What could it be?’
Recognizing the odd tension in the air, Nabi asked, “Are they really that similar?”
Nam Kyung pulled up his glasses. Seeing Yun Woo in front of him reminded him of something that he had been forgetting.
“One can’t simply write like Yun Woo. How similar are they?” he asked. Because he hadn’t read the book himself, there was no point of reference for him.
Looking at the serious expression on Nam Kyung’s face, Juho answered, “Down to a tee.”
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