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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Dong Baek, the president of the Dong Baek Publishing Company, and Jang Mi, the editor-in-chief, sat opposite of each other, each looking as serious as the other. ‘Language of God’ had been chosen as the first Korean candidate for an international science fiction literary award. Of the five awarded categories, the novel had been chosen as a full-length candidate. Once the novel had gone through several months of evaluations and was chosen as the winner, the author would be awarded with one of the most widely recognized literary awards in the world, along with the title of being the youngest and the first Korean and Asian winner in the history of the award.
“Mr. Young sounded pretty excited, too,” Jang Mi said, remembering the voice she had heard during the call. However, after chuckling for only a brief time, the young author went back to being his usual self, as if the news no longer excited him.
“It seems like Mr. Woo is much bolder than I thought.”
Yun Woo was an author with guts, which explained how he was able to write the kinds of novels he had, all with any hesitation.
“He’s in the middle of revising the manuscript of his upcoming novel, even after writing such an intense short story. He’s a true novelist,” Dong Baek said with a heavy sigh.
Unlike the president of the company and the editor-in-chief, whose hearts were pounding restlessly and whose hands trembled to the point of keeping them from even picking up a glass of water, the author himself couldn’t be any more at peace.
“Mr. Young scares me sometimes.”
“I guess that’s the kind of person it takes to write novels like that.”
“I guess so. That also has to be how an eighteen, now nineteen-year-old author was able to be chosen as a candidate for an international literary award,” Jang Mi said as her face loosened up by reflex. She was ecstatic even with just the thought of the author being chosen as a candidate and, when she thought of ‘Language of God,’ she felt confident that it was a novel that deserved more than just the appointment. The delicate settings, the author’s distinctively pure writing style, the profound content and the hard-hitting ending. Both critics and readers had recognized the novel and the significance of its mythology, along with the original languages used in the world within the novel. That a novel like that had been chosen as a candidate… Jang Mi began to grasp the unexplainable admiration and joy she had felt when she first came across the novel. ‘Language of God’ had been a novel worthy of such award all along.
“This might sound crazy, but…” the editor-in-chief opened her mouth and said, struggling to say the words. “You don’t think Mr. Young would turn down the award or anything like that, do you?”
Although that was a thought that would be best left as an irrational fear, based on what the two knew about the author’s personality, it was quite possible. Then, Jang Mi imagined the author. The first thing that came to her was his calm, peaceful face, mysterious and impossible to read. The author in her imagination wasn’t looking at her. Instead, his eyes were fixed on his manuscript. Then, writing frantically, the author said, “I find this whole thing quite distracting, so I’d like to decline the award. I’d like to focus on writing.”
A chill ran down her spine. An author had rights to do things like that, and she had no right to stop him. Despite his unassuming appearance, Won Yi Young had an unyielding side to him, especially when it came to writing, and having experienced that firsthand while revising his manuscript, Jang Mi was well aware of that about the author. He tended to be quite stubborn, and it was near impossible to convince him of something, no matter how she phrased her suggestions. After all, even from Jang Mi’s point of view as an editor, it made complete sense that the young author was that stubborn. And now, things were no different.
To an author, writing came before awards, sales, or popularity. A good piece of writing tended to sell and grow increasingly popular, but sales and popularity weren’t necessarily a reflection of quality. Therefore, if the author were to actually say what Jang Mi had imagined him saying, she would try desperately to convince him otherwise, only to end up respecting his choice in the end. And it would be no different for the president. Shaking his leg anxiously, Dong Baek said, “But, this is Annular Award we’re talking about. Didn’t you say it was one of the world’s four major literary awards?”
“Yes, but you know Mr. Woo wouldn’t even flinch.”
“He’s in the middle of revisions, isn’t he? He’s not writing, so he might listen.”
“Right? It’s just an irrational fear, right?”
At her question, Dong Baek hesitated for a brief moment, and the air sank into a heavy silence. Yun Woo turning the award down would be the worst possible scenario from the company’s perspective.
“… We’re seeing him tomorrow, right?”
“Yes. The reporters are surrounding the building entrance, so we’ll have to go to the botanical garden.”
The news of Yun Woo being chosen as a candidate spread quickly. Sitting in the conference room, Jang Mi looked at the laptop placed in the middle of the desk, reading through the articles that were coming up on the internet.
“He’s Done It!”
“Won Yi Young Finally Earns Worldwide Fame.”
“Won Yi Young Moves the Hearts of Men Across the Globe.”
Every single one had an exaggerated title, yet there was not a single person pointing that out in the comments. Everyone was ecstatic, proud, admiring and rooting for the Korean author. At the same time, they were curious and looking forward to the author getting the award.
“First off, why don’t we make it so that Mr. Young can’t really chime in?” Dong Baek said, making a cheap suggestion. The author was nineteen. He had the mentality of a middle-aged man, but nevertheless, he was a nineteen-year-old teenager. Although Yun Woo was yet to have said anything, as president, Dong Baek had the responsibility to prepare for the worst. Once Yun Woo spoke, it would be too late. Then, without complaining, Jang Mi agreed to her boss’ plan. She, too, wanted to see the book edited by her and published by her company receive an international literary award. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“What about some party poppers? As soon as he walks in, we pop ’em.”
“Sounds good. Should we just burst out into tears, too, while we’re at it? If Mr. Young sees us crying, he might not be so heartless toward us.”
Once their discussion went as far as preparing artificial tears, the two sighed out loud together. The author had no clue of what the people around him were going through, and how tricky and difficult of a person he was.
“Congratulations, Mr. Young!”
“Marvelous! I’m so proud of being your editor. I’ve already told all of my family and friends about it. Thought I should get it out of the way!”
Juho grabbed the colorful pieces of paper on his head. It was quite noisy, and for some reason, Dong Baek and Jang Mi were making a bigger fuss than usual. There was a box with cake in the president’s hands, probably in celebration of the author’s achievement.
“Thank you,” Juho said, looking at the cake, which had been placed on the table. “Should we all eat it, now?”
“Oh, in here?”
“Yes, of course. It might not seem like it, but we use this room as a lounge, too, so we have everything we need, like disposable chopsticks.”
At that, Juho rose from his seat, reached over and looked through a box that looked like a bonsai tree had been stashed in it. Then, amid all the straws, a pair of wooden chopsticks appeared.
“Ta-da!” Juho said, waving his find, and the two smiled brightly. Juho observed them slowly, yet subtly. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but there was something unnatural about their behavior. Then, thinking that sweets would help him think straight, the young author began to set up the cake on the wooden table.
“This is a good cake,” Juho said as the sweetness of the cream, the sponge, and the fruit spread in his mouth.
“Do you like it, Mr. Young? We got it from a famous bakery,” the president said, chatting up the author. Then, while eating the cake, Juho felt a burning gaze on him.
“What is it?”
“How do you feel? You’re chosen as a candidate.”
At that, Juho chuckled quietly, and said, “I feel good.”
At his brief response, the president and the editor-in-chief locked eyes quietly. It was a more positive response than they had anticipated. However, nothing else followed. That was the extent of his happiness.
“Is that it?”
“What else should I be feeling?”
“Well, maybe you could be looking forward to the award, or even feeling anxious.”
At that moment, Dong Baek tapped Jang Mi’s foot under the desk, reminding her that there was no benefit in bringing anxiety into the conversation. Then, the editor-in-chief added candidly, “Or how you plan on overcoming that anxiety.”
“No, not really.”
Despite her attempts, only a bland answer came back. Then, taking his eyes off the cake, Juho looked up all of a sudden, looked at Dong Baek and said, “Speaking of which, I’d like to decline my candidacy.”
At that statement the two had dreaded hearing the most, their faces turned deathly pale.
“… Was that what you were expecting me to say?”
Juho chuckled light-heartedly. ‘I knew something was off,’ Juho thought. They had been worried about what he had just said. Observing the look on their faces, Juho saw both anticipation and anxiety. However, what the young author had observed even before those two emotions had been their excitement of experiencing something new. A new attempt brought about a new set of processes, and the only way to find out whether there was success or failure at the end of the path was to go all the way to the end.
“I won’t turn down my candidacy, so you can enjoy the moment in peace.”
“… You have a terrible sense of humor, Mr. Young.”
“I’d noticed that something was off, so I thought I should lighten things up a little.”
“Your perception is impressive.”
Although Jang Mi’s eyes changed as if looking at something special, Juho was completely oblivious to it since he was occupied with eating his cake,
“Besides, it’s not like I’ll be all that busy, either. It’s the judges who are doing all the work.”
“That is true. You don’t have to worry about getting hassled by reporters, either. If someone, we’re the ones who are running around like headless chickens. Everyone’s busy talking first this and first that.”
“People seem to be making a big fuss about it when I haven’t even gotten the award yet.”
“Oh, you don’t have to be so modest now, Mr. Young. You were chosen as a candidate out of all science fictions novels written in English. On top of that, it’s your book! An Asian and Korean novel! This is huge!”
Then, Jang Mi lowered her voice to a whisper, murmuring, “Speaking of which, the award tends to lean too much toward one side. They love stories that are based on the Eastern culture, yet they only consider works written in English.”
“Sad realities,” Dong Baek said with a bitter smile. No matter how much one grumbled about it, the fact that the Annular Award was a literary award of international recognition remained unchanged. With the award, came the recognition of the entire world, as well as an astronomical boost in sales, popularity, and social status. Being an award with half a century of history, the Annular Award carried quite the weight and power. If Yun Woo, or Won Yi Young, were to win an award like that… Dong Baek cleared his throat as he felt something welling up from within. He couldn’t help but imagine and look forward to it. Then, looking up at the author, he wondered, ‘How can he be so calm? What a specimen! He’s just as incredible as his writing.’
“Well, first of all, you’re gonna have to make a brief statement about your candidacy.”
“How you feel, and so on. Your readers are dying to know what you’re thinking, and I’m sure that curiosity spans the globe, now.”
“… But I’m in the middle of revising a manuscript.”
‘In here? Now?’ Dong Back thought, fighting desperately to keep his expression calm.
“It doesn’t have to be that long. You said you felt good about it, right? What if you deliver that to your readers, somehow?”
“Yes, thanking and appreciating them, while you’re at it,” Jang Mi added.
At her suggestion, Juho contemplated the idea for a brief moment. A thankful heart. A word to those who read his novels.
“When do you need it by?”
“There’s no rush, but the sooner, the better.”
“… Then, I’ll send it your way by the end of this week.”
At Juho’s affirmative answer, Dong Baek thanked the young author, and after a brief thought, he asked, “In my opinion, I don’t think it would be such a bad idea to update your readers on the sequel to ‘Language of God.’ What do you think?”
A sequel. It was a topic that had been discussed at length. The readers and the editor shared a similar opinion. The readers wanted to interact with the world within the novel at a deeper level, while the editor thought that it was too early for the series to be over. Everyone wanted a sequel. However, Juho tilted his head.
“I’m not sure. Nothing’s set in stone yet, so that might be a little tough. I’m honestly not sure if I’d be able to write a sequel.”
“If you do, you mentioned at one point that you’d be talking about the past, right?”
“Yes, I did.”
The origin of God. The mythology that One had studied and its birth. The language incomprehensible to humans and the traitor of the animals. Juho did recall wanting to discuss those things in more detail.
“Well, I’m sure I’ll get to it, eventually,” the young author said. When the inspiration called out to him in a louder voice, only then would he respond. Then, remembering what he had heard in the past, Juho asked, “What about the interview requests that have been coming in from overseas? Are you getting them, still?”
“Of course. I’m sure it’ll go on for a while. Rest assured, Mr. Young. We’ve been turning down every single one of them.”
Then, at the mention of a famous broadcasting station in the US, Juho thought to himself,
‘I’m sure he knows about me by now.’
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