Korean writer Han Kang in line for prestigious award
One of the six shortlisted authors announced last week is Han Kang, who has lately been garnering an amount of attention rare for a Korean writer from the foreign press for her novel “The Vegetarian,” which was published in English last year.
The Man Booker Prize, which began in 1969 in the United Kingdom with the aim of promoting the finest fiction, is one of the top honors for novelists. The prize is granted annually to an original novel, written in English and published in the United Kingdom.
Along with the original prize, the Man Booker International Prize was established in 2005 for translated works. The winning work is awarded 50,000 pounds ($70,900), which is equally divided between the author and the translator.
Han Kang told Yonhap News Agency that she is grateful for the nomination, saying, “It feels like I gained new strength to write the new novel I am writing now, which has been difficult to write these days.”
This year’s shortlist of authors includes Jose Eduardo Agualusa of Angola with the novel “A General Theory of Oblivion”; Italian writer Elena Ferrante with “The Story of the Lost Child”; Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk with “A Strangeness in My Mind”; Robert Seethaler of Austria with “A Whole Life”; and Chinese writer Yan Lianke with “The Four Books.”
Yan was previously nominated for the prize in 2013, while Pamuk won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006.
Han Kang’s novel “The Vegetarian” centers on a protagonist named Young-hye, who suddenly resists food, driven from eating animals by a horrendous dream. She then refuses all kinds of food but water, as she believes she is becoming a tree.
The novel consists of three books that are delivered in the voices of three characters: Young-hye’s husband, her sister’s husband and her sister. The second book, “The Mongol Spot,” won Han the 29th Yi Sang Literary Award. The book invites readers to ponder human violence by portraying Young-hye’s metamorphosis and psychology.
The novel was translated to English by Deborah Smith, a British novelist. Her translation has been acclaimed for successfully delivering the writer’s original message, while making it approachable to foreign readers at the same time. Smith also translated Han’s novel “Human Acts,” published this year in English.
The winner of the prize will be announced May 16.
BY KIM HYE-JUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]