Han Kang becomes the first South Korean to win Man Booker International

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: May 17, 2016 20:26 IST
The book features a protagonist who wants to become a plant and leave the human race to save herself from the dark side human nature. (Amazon)

South Korean writer Han Kang’s translated novel, “The Vegetarian”, an “unforgettably powerful and original” story of a woman who wants to reject human brutality and gives up eating meat, has won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.

The novel was translated from Korean to English by Deborah Smith, who learnt Korean after noticing the lack of English-Korean translators after her degree in English literature.

The prize, worth £50,000, was announced on Monday night. Kang and Smith will share the prize money.

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Others in the race included Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, Italian writer Elena Ferrante, Angolan Jose Eduardo Agualusa, China’s Yan Lianke and Austrian Robert Seethaler.

“The Vegetarian” was the first novel by the lecturer in creative writing in Seoul to be translated into English.

Korean author Han Kang poses for a photograph with her book The Vegetarian at a photocall in London on May 15, 2016. (AFP)

Boyd Tonkin, chair of the panel of judges, said it unanimously chose the winner. “In a style both lyrical and lacerating, it reveals the impact of this great refusal both on the heroine herself and on those around her,” he said..

“This compact, exquisite and disturbing book will linger long in the minds, and maybe the dreams, of its readers.”

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