New D&Q: Bad Friends by Ancco

Bad Friends, by Korean comic artist Ancco, is now in stores! Born in 1983 just outside of Seoul, Ancco began publishing brutally honest diary comics in 2002. When she published the original Korean edition of Bad Friends in 2012, it won the Korean Comics Today prize. In 2016, the French translation won the Prix Révélation at Angoulême.

Set during the author's adolescence in the 1990s in a South Korea torn between tradition and Western modernity and haunted by an air of generalized gloom, Bad Friends follows a friendship between two girls, Pearl and Jong-ae, as they attempt to find a place for themselves while caught up in cycles of abuse.

Haunted by an air of generalized gloom, the characters in Bad Friends each enact violence within their power structures: parents beat children, teachers beat students, older students beat younger students. But amid the bleakness, Ancco pulls back with soft moments of friendship between Pearl and her best friend, Jeong-ae. What unfolds is a story of female friendship, a Ferrante-esque connection formed through youthful excess, malaise, and struggle that stays with the young women into adulthood.

Bad Friends is translated from Korean by Janet Hong, an award-winning writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. Her translations include Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale (Graywolf Press, 2017) and Ha Seong-nan’s The Woman Next Door (forthcoming from Open Letter Books in 2019). She is currently long listed for the 2018 PEN Translation Prize.

R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries, writes that, "Ancco’s Bad Friends is the unforgettable story of a lost, pivotal friendship. I read it in a single sitting, thrilled by its power, ingenuity, and grace. I love this book." Discover it for yourself!

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