By Bora Chung
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Cursed Bunny is a genre-defying collection of short stories by Korean author Bora Chung. Blurring the lines between magical realism, horror, and science-fiction, Chung uses elements of the fantastic and surreal to address the very real horrors and cruelties of patriarchy and capitalism in modern society.
Anton Hur’s translation skilfully captures the way Chung’s prose effortlessly glides from being terrifying to wryly humorous. Winner of a PEN/Heim Grant.Tweet
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I started this collection of short stories with very few assumptions and was caught off guard by the dark and disturbing tone, but quickly grew to enjoy it. The first couple of stories with their visceral descriptions of bodily functions were gruesome and engaging, and gave the reader an insight into the often repressed feelings of the main character. More than once, the story ends with a sinister scene that stays with you long after you put the book down. As the book goes on, the stories become more folklore in style, which i personally found to be less engaging. But one thing is for sure - these stories are unlike anything you've ever read and Chung takes you on a wild ride through her dark imagination.
Cursed Bunny was unlike anything I'd read before & from the first page I wasn't sure what I was in for.
At times I felt scared, uncomfortable and almost disgusted but the stories were also emotive and funny in places. It's powerful that an author can create stories that fit into horror, science fiction as well as the magical and folklore-esque and maintain throughout the reflection on modern society and touch on issues such as capitalism. It'll definitely be a book I'll be dipping into in the future.
As a newbie to horror and magical realism I found it really interesting how descriptively grotesque some of the stories were, and yet I found myself needing to know more. Bora Chungs ability to bring out dark and disturbing scenarios into everyday life and our day to day actions was truly fascinating and terrifying.
This book is different from anything I have read in recent years, and as such, it turned out to be a refreshing, albeit sometimes shocking, experience.
The short stories in "Cursed bunny" range from the outlandish, to traditional fantasy, to sci-fi, all while reflecting on day-to-day human lives and interactions, as well as feelings such as loneliness and society's expectations of women.
Bora Chung is able to turn daily occurrences into something eery and grotesque, to the point where reading some of the stories was uncomfortable. They were so well written that it was easy to put yourself in the shoes of the protagonists, and their experiences were nothing I would like to live through.
Some would classify this book as fantasy and horror, which would be fitting, but for me personally, the greatest achievement of this book is the humanity and vulnerability in every character.
A fantastic collection of short stories that invoked a colourful palette of emotions. At times it made me feel gross & disgusted, intrigued & suspicious, or sad & excited. On multiple occasions I was delighted by an unexpected plot twist. And one story in particular felt novel - without giving out too much - written in first person, but completely omitting one of the senses. It makes the reader's imagination work that little bit harder to fill in the gaps. The themes explored were social indifference and social pressure, especially the woman's perspective. The conflict between love, revenge, greed, and survival. The stories have a moral undercurrents, but can also be enjoyed without diving too deep. Some of the shocking parts did make me linger on the verge of putting this book away early, but I am glad read through - overall I'd give it 4 stars.
At first I would have given this book less stars. I rate more on how much a book made me feel and think rather than the way it was written. And the truth is Cursed Bunny (the whole book) did make me feel a lot.
But because it was mostly unsettling, I've settled for a lower rating before I've finished it. Just not my genre(s) I thought, even if the topics were so strong. And even if the second story struck many chords - how whatever you do (or don't do) you will always be at fault, how women are "nothing" without a man, etc. Yet I thought just one story was not enough to rate the whole book highly. Seems like it was not the right story.
The other stories also spoke about very important issues, just not in a voice that resonated strongly with me. I did enjoy Ruler of the Winds and Sands mostly because it was not unsettling, but it felt like any other fairytale story. And then - the final one, Reunion. Many important themes in there as well - but I thought less rationally about it than about The Embodiment. It was mostly the poetic feeling it left, and despite the grim ending it made me feel lighter, almost undid how uneasy I felt from some of the previous stories. In short, masterful address of such powerful themes, just not in the style I enjoy most.
Cursed Bunny is like no book I have read before and to define it's genre would require far more words than the length of this review would allow. Each of the 10 short stories traverses horror, folklore, sci-fi and realism; often all at once. What each of Chung's tales have incommon is the shocking and unexpected moments that are sprinkled throughout. Despite the detached narrative style, the writing provokes a visceral response, which stayed with me long after I closed the book.
It is because of this fantastic writing that my enjoyment of Cursed Bunny was somewhat limited. The emotions that I felt whilst reading, and that I struggled to shake after, were chilling, uncomfortable and scary. For the squeamish person that I am, reading this book was a challenge. However, one glady undertaken as I work towards broadening the types of books I pick up.
I would absolutely recommend Cursed Bunny to anyone who enjoys stories twisted with horror. But perhaps not to those prone to nightmares!
Cursed Bunny was a brilliant read with a number of short stories that were easy to dive into on my morning commute. The stories evoked a range of emotions within me from sad, scared to disgusted but ultimately fascinated with where the story would go. I was consistently surprised with the endings of each.
For me, some of the outstanding themes were that of the external pressures society puts upon us to be something other than ourselves, the greed that is present in modern day society to be richer/better/perfecta and the impact our pasts have on our present lives. The stories also told of the harrowing truth of what our future could look like if we continue on the path we are.
Some stories resonated harder with me than others and I particularly enjoyed 'Scars'.