The salmon who dared to leap higher by Ahn Do-Hyun
Original title – 연어 이야기 (연어 그 두 번째 이야기)
Translator – Deborah Smith
Source – Review copy
“War Of Man”
The little creatures
run in from the cold
Back to the nest
just like the days of old
There in the safety
of a mother’s arms
The warmth of ages,
far away from harm again.
from the battle fire
The tired warrior
aims a little higher
The black falcon
or the little sparrow
The healing light
or the flash of the barrel.
I choose a song from Neil young his war of man ,which has an eco message behind it .
When this book dropped through the letter box the other week , I nearly put it too one side till I saw it was translated by Deborah , whom I have spoken with on twitter and had a brief chat with at LBF and did talk about this book as i finished it a few days before .Although the cover was appealing as well . Ahn Do-Hyn has won numerous prizes in Korea including the so-wol poetry prize which is one of the best known poetry prizes in Korea .He studied Korean literature and this is his first book to be translated into English .
Silver salmon had managed to avoid becoming a meal for the fierce eagle .
And yet , something strange – rather than the giddy relief of having cheated death , he feels a pang of sadness at having escaped unharmed . Because the salmon who had been caught – the one who’d swum by his side ever since they left their home river ,
Silver salmon escapes the clutches of a fish eagle .
This book is part of a series of novels that are marketed in Korea as Adult fables (thanks to Deborah for that ) .The salmon who dared to leap higher is the story of one salmon’s journey the silver salmon as we follow them from the sea up the river he came from .The journey is a perilous one that sees many of the salmon’s swimming along side . We are told little stories of the companions along side . The fish have to avoid eagles and bears as they try to get to the river head . Of course the book is more a fable of modern life in Korea and the river maybe is the everyday journey in life of Koreans they are maybe the salmon’s trying to reach the river head and mate have children etc .But also the world around them and the human world .
Bag-of-bones salmon was also in possessions of exceptional memory . His mind was like an enormous storehouse where all manner of facts are filed and preserved .Circling over the riverbed ,he mutters to himself , “Yes , the rapids have increased in height by 35 centimetres since we leapt down over them ”
The salmon remember the world through a sort of collective passing of tales almost their own fables .
I read this in one sitting , which for me is the sign of a book of 120 pages I have actually really enjoyed . This is a fun fable , I initially compared it in my head to Jonathan Livingstone seagull and yes the salmon of the story journey through its life is similar too Jonathan’s journey . But for me this is maybe more based in Korean culture , I was reminded of one of the other books I read from Korea on the Blog please look after mother and maybe this is the same story in a fable manner the salmon as a whole are trying to reach a point but some get eaten and some just can’t make the journey and this is maybe mirroring modern Korea where the country has jumped so quickly in the last fifty years since the end of the korean war .But also serves as a remind of the natural world around them .I feel Deborah did a great job of what must be a poetic book in the original Korean a lyrical feel to the story in english .I must admit I do love the cover art as well and the book has some great illustrations through the book capture the novella well .
Have you a favourite fable ?