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Cat Country
ISBN 979-11-968501-2-8 03810
Published by Sail and Anchor, Seoul, Korea
Cat Country is a 1933 novel written by a Chinese writer, Lao She. This is the first time in Korea for his novel to be published and introduced by Sail and Anchor, a publishing company in Seoul. The novel begins with the scene of the protagonist’s spaceship crash landing on Mars. He soon meets the planet’s inhabitants, who have the faces of cats but otherwise appear human. He observes their unique and strange lives and cultures. It is a beautiful dystopian SF novel to recommend to those who like similar works, such as Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1924), Alders Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), and George Orwell’s 1984 (1949).

The cats in the book are quite different from the ordinary, cute, and lovely ones. The cats on Mars symbolize the Modern Chinese people during which the author wrote the novel. The city of cats is similar to China in the modern times, which was surrounded by Western powers during the expansion of imperialism. The traditional Sinocentrism held by Chinese bureaucrats and intellectuals began to break apart around the middle of the 19th century. It was around the time when the Opium Wars broke out by the United Kingdom, whom the Chinese regarded as barbarians from the West. Through his work, the author persistently satirizes the turbid China of the modern times and furthermore, the absurdity of humans in a dark and humorous way.
I designed the book, thinking about the colors, forms, and textures that could best symbolize the cloudy appearance of modern China when Western imperialism and East Asian culture collided. I hoped that the cat’s face, which is very psychedelic, suspicious, and looks like a mirage, would catch the readers’ attention.

On the edge of the book, I placed the titles of the chapters in original Chinese characters, which consist of many strokes. These titles gradually descend as the novel progresses, reflecting the increasing absurdity. Just like the index of old phone books and dictionaries, the pattern formed and revealed in the fore-edge symbolize the characters in the novel losing humanity, collapsing civilizations, and the main character's spaceship that crashes at the beginning of the novel.

Design: Jaemin Lee
Illustration: Jeongsu Woo
Client: Sail and Anchor
Year: November 2021

© Jaemin Lee. All rights reserved.