James Han Mattson Recommends...

“In my early thirties, I spent two years in Korea, investigating the particulars of my adoption and reuniting with my birth family. While there, I took Korean classes, and since I’d never had any real Korean instruction before, I became, for a while, a toddler, learning letters and sounds and words and numbers. Studying something as elemental as an alphabet enlivened a part of my brain that’d been dormant for years; overnight, it seemed, I viewed language not as a sophisticated mode of communication but as an elegant arrangement of shapes and sounds. Hangul—the Korean alphabet—reacquainted me with language’s basic component, the letter, and often, when I’m stuck on my novel, I will take to a notebook and write sentence after sentence in Korean. My Korean vocabulary is abysmal, so I write most of these sentences as hangul creations of English words, but even so, this practice forces me to slow down, to appreciate sound, rhythm, and character design. When I go back to my novel, the words reverberate and become noisy, making the book itself more animated and alive. The linguistic energy emerging from the pages reinvigorates my enthusiasm for the story itself.”
—James Han Mattson, author of The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves (Little A, 2017)