What Foreign Novelists are South Koreans Reading?

In News by Dennis Abrams

By Dennis Abrams

Bernard Werber, little known in America, is said to be the second most widely read French author in the world after Marc Levy.

Bernard Werber, little known in America, is said to be the second most widely read French author in the world after Marc Levy.

Publishing Perspectives’ editor-in-chief Edward Nawotka asked, “Is the assumption of American provincialism exaggerated,” noting that “It is often said that Americans don’t read enough foreign books.” As a point of comparison, The Korea Herald reported this weekend on the results of a recent poll on the most read foreign novelists in South Korea.

And while it may not be any surprise that Haruki Murakami is the most-read foreign novelist in South Korea, the numbers might surprise you: Korea Gallup said that 24% of the 1,230 surveyed ages 19 and over said that they had read at least one novel by the popular Japanese novelist.

An additional 45% of those surveyed said they were “aware” of Murakami, but had not yet read any of his books. Only 31% said that they did not know who he was.

Interestingly though, the Gallup poll showed that Murakami was not the most popular foreign writer among South Korean readers. Asked who their favorite foreign writer was, French novelist Bernard Werber, best known for his series “The Ants” topped the list, receiving 5% of the vote.

Murakami came in second, followed by Ernest Hemingway in third. Others writers to make the list included Leo Tolstoy, Pearl S. Buck, Alain de Botton, and J.K. Rowling.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.