Yisol Jo

Yisol Jo

Yisol Jo was born and raised in South Korea and the Philippines, and later lived and studied in New York City, where she received a graduate fellowship from the NYU Creative Writing Program. A recipient of a translation grant from the Daesan Foundation in South Korea, she continues to be fascinated with the beauty of language both in writing and translation. Currently, she’s working on a collection of short stories about longing and belonging, and a novel set right before the Korean War, when Korea was a unified nation but full of turmoil.


Q: If you could travel back in time, which of the great writers would you like to meet and why?

A: Yi-Sang, a writer known for his modern poems and short stories during the colonial period in Korea. He’s considered to be a genius and his works are relevant even to this day. I’m curious to find out what he’d say about the world today.


Q: Do you have a lucky writing talisman? If so, what is it?

A: Not exactly a lucky writing talisman, but I need multiple pens around me when I write. It has calming effect.


Q: If you could teleport yourself anywhere, real or fictional, where would it be and why?

A: Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I remember being completely engulfed by the kaleidoscopic world he created – John Coltrane, unicorn skulls, mysterious librarian, mad scientist, and the mythical monsters… How can I say no?


Q: Who is your personal inspiration?

A: My great-grandmother who raised my mother and later helped her to raise us (her three children). Like so many women during her time, she was constantly challenged with suffering and loss. Yet, it was her resilience and capacity to love that defined her in the end.