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Yaseng Tokki and his Demon.

A novel about contemporary art.


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11.01.2020 #ytahd


My personal notes about
Yaseng Tokki and his Demon


I started working on Yaseng Tokki and His Demon in 2003. Initially I wanted to write a thriller about the business of contemporary art; largely based on my professional experience working with one up and coming contemporary artist in London. My initial idea was to write a satirical guide about how to invest in contemporary art and make a killing.


I worked on it over weekends and late nights, but I lost my interest in the story when the first draft was completed. As a result, for the next 6 years I focused on other projects.


It was only when my writing caught the attention of a New York literary agent that I decided to approach Yaseng Tokki and His Demon with a commercial goal in mind. I felt it was about time to finalize a project up to a publishing format and take the business of writing more seriously.


I always felt I had a story to tell, and somehow, I also wanted to be heard. But rather than starting a new project I looked at the endless number of stories that I had parked over the years. Yaseng Tokki and His Demon was the project I decided to rescue from oblivion.


I picked Yaseng Tokki and His Demon because it had a simple pitch: ‘Famous art investor starts buying art from a famous contemporary artist in great quantities. Contemporary artist doesn’t know if it’s because his work is appreciated, or if investor wants him killed to sell his stock for a massive profit upon his death.’


Around 2013 the novel reached more or less the format it has today. I felt I had written the novel I always wanted to read, and that was a satisfying and fulfilling thought.



Initial reception


The initial reception dazzled me. Some people advised me to keep writing, others were quite irritated, almost disgusted, with some sections of the narrative.


Since it has never been my intention to disgust readers, I decided to soften certain sections of the story, but the majority was left as I initially envisaged, as I felt it was the right pattern to put my message across.


Yaseng Tokki and His Demon is a story set in the world of contemporary art and in most cases, people are simply at odds with it. However, contemporary art is an important aspect of living in a community. Which is one of the reasons why I am hoping Yaseng Tokki and His Demon will help to bridge the gap between the production of art these days and our lack of understanding about it.



Korean words


Yaseng Tokki means ‘Wild Rabbit’ in Korean.


In 2010 I visited Seoul, and fascinated by Korean culture I decided to incorporate a few Korean words in the novel. As the writing evolved, these words ended up having a bigger role in the conclusion of the story than initially intended.



Present day


Towards the end of 2017 I started editing the concepts about contemporary art which are discussed in the novel. I have also started illustrating some of its chapters as well as the cover. I published my initial sketches for the cover on Twitter, but there is a lot of material that hasn’t seen the light of day yet. Watch this space in that sense.


Still, despite the above, if you are interested in contemporary art this novel is for you. You are going to love it or hate it, but it will be fun to read it too. Enjoy the ride and let me know your thoughts.


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