The Impossible Fairytale

by Han Yujoo. Translated by Janet Hong

Metafictional murder among South Korean schoolchildren: The Impossible Fairytale tells the story of the nameless ‘Child’, who struggles to make a mark on the world, and her classmate Mia, whose spoiled life is everything the Child's is not.

At school, adults are nearly invisible, and the society the children create on their own is marked by soul-crushing hierarchies and an underlying menace. Then, one day after hours, the Child sneaks into the classroom to add ominous sentences to her classmates’ notebooks, setting in motion a series of cataclysmic events.


'A bold young author at the vanguard of a new wave of Korean fiction...dazzling...the writing is beautiful – even breathtaking' – Arifa Akbar

The Impossible Fairytale is extraordinary. Disturbing and visceral in its depiction of the savagery of childhood, yet uplifting in its reinvention of literary form. A novel of hypnotic language, page-turning suspense and mind-bending metafictional twists, The Impossible Fairytale is the most eerie and fearlessly experimental work I have encountered in recent years.’ — Susan Barker

‘A haunting, spellbinding tale about violent obsession and the immense and frightening force of an unquiet conscience.’ — Sara Baume

‘Is this a horror story or a memoir, a work of theory or a riddle? No doubt about it, Han Yujoo is a brave and intelligent writer.’ — Lara Pawson

Rights Profile

Rights Available
Ireland, Europe, ANZ

Original Language

Samples Available
Full text available in English



Publication Date

May 2017


The Impossible Fairytale on the Tilted Axis website