Joining a growing cohort of notable Korean imports, Ha’s dazzling, vaguely intertwined collection of 10 stories is poised for Western acclaim ... PEN/Heim Translation Fund–awarded Hong enables English-language readers access into Ha’s disturbing, unpredictable, oneiric—yet all too recognizable—world in which heat stifles, waste rots, and bonds break; yet, for most, life goes on.
... [a] wonderfully unsettling book of 10 masterful short stories ... Each story is like a rollercoaster ride ... What makes these stories so powerful is Ha’s ability to reveal, often microscopically, the slight, almost imperceptible slippage between the actual events and the protagonists’ perception of them. Eventually, whatever bonds exist between the protagonist and her or his reality are torn asunder, leaving the individual vulnerable and hopeless ... The constant slippage between the protagonists’ perceptions and the reality of the things around them carries through all the stories. The outcome of that ever shifting slippage is what keeps our attention ... Ha fully inhabits her very different protagonists ... feels as contemporary ... I would like to believe that Flowers of Mold — which has been translated into sparkling English by Janet Hong — receives the reception it deserves and this leads to her other books being translated into English, introducing her works to a larger worldwide audience.
The ten well-crafted works of short fiction collected in award-winning Korean author Ha Seong-nan’s Flowers of Mold are not so much horror stories as just horrible ... Ha’s [stories] are mostly characterized by atmosphere: they make the skin-crawl—not by overly explicit description, although there can be that too, but rather by imbuing her characters with a certain inescapable creepiness ... The stories, it must be said, are uncomfortable if not unpleasant: some readers will enjoy the frisson they deliver, while others may admire their craftsmanship without necessarily finding them to their taste ... Janet Hong’s translation deserves more than a mention. It is fluent to a degree that one might never guess it is a translation at all.