Five Preludes & a Fugue – Cheon Heerahn

Five Preludes & a Fugue is the first book of the Yeoyu series from Strangers Press. And as a first book, it is definitely a surprising one with an unexpected ending. And it may be a little book, but it will stay with you for a while.


The story is told in the form of letters between two women: Hyoju, who lives in Korea and, Sonsengnim, who lives in Basel. As we read the letters, we begin to see how deep their relationship is and complicated at the same time. On the other hand, we got to see the social norms in Korea.

Five Preludes & a Fugue - Cheon Heerahn

I’m reminded of the day I came out to my parents. First, I talked to my mother. I thought it would be easier to face her than to face the pater familias. I couldn’t have been more wrong. She wrapped her arms around me and told me to never speak of this again, not to anyone.

Five Preludes & a Fugue, Cheon Heerahn

This is an intense story, focusing on women’s’ lives in Korea, love, identity and loss. Enjoy!


Five Preludes & a Fugue

A young woman delves into the circumstances of her mother’s death ahead of her own marriage, interrogating a woman who witnessed her mother’s death and would later come to play a crucial role in her life. An exploration of the human (in)capacity for (self-)deception and knowledge, the story offers a nuanced portrait of contemporary (Korean) social mores. As with all Cheon’s work to date this beautifully crafted story places women at its core, and explores form and genre (in this case epistolatory) while subtly weaving into the text a deep interrogation of social issues.

Cheon Heerahn

Cheon Heerahn was born in Gyeonggido Seongnam, Korea in 1984. She was named 2015 Emerging Writer of the Year by the journal Contemporary Literature (Hyeondae Munhak) for her story ‘Pale Garden of No Shadows’. In 2017 Cheon won the 8th Munhakdongne Young Writer’s Prize. The Origin of Nought was her first full collection. 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Yeoyu – New Voices from Korea

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