South Korean writer Han Kang, author of ‘The Vegetarian’ was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for fiction on Monday. It was the unanimous choice by the panel of five judges, over six other books, including ‘A strangeness in My Mind’ by Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and ’The Story of the Lost Child’ by Italian bestseller writer Elena Ferrante. This is Han’s first book to be translated into English and as a consequence she shares the £50,000 prize money with the translator Deborah Smith, who herself had started learning Korean just three years prior to translating the novel.
The story about a woman who gives up meat, and it’s disastrous consequences on her family and life hit the right notes with the jury. “It’s almost an outlandish story – a story that could topple over into crude horror or melodrama, or just over-emphatic allegories, but it has extraordinary poise and tact and control,” said chair of judges Boyd Tonkin, as reported by The Guardian. “And that’s done both by Han Kang and by this amazing translation from Deborah Smith … The point about this prize is that it’s totally equal between the author and the translator, and we feel this strange and brilliant book has absolutely found the right voice in English.”. he added.
45 year old Han told The Guardian, “It is a very precious thing – winning this prize, my friendship with Deborah. This book and this prize has bought me many things.”
The award-winning writer’s next novel will be published in Korea next week. For those of you who don’t know, Man Booker International Prize Award is the international counterpart to Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize and welcomes books published in any language that have been translated into English.
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