South Korean author Kyung-sook Shin won Asia's most prestigious prize for literature on Thursday for her novel about a family's guilty soul-searching after the disappearance of their elderly mother.
Judges of the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize described Shin's novel "Please Look After Mom", which has already sold almost two million copies in South Korea, as the clear stand-out in a strong field dominated by South Asians.
Judging panel chairman Razia Iqbal said it was a "beautiful, poignantly told tale" with a "compelling structure" that set it apart from the others.
"It's a very intimate portrait of a family's search for their mother, but it's also a portrait of Korea, post the Korean War," he said as the award was announced at a ceremony in Hong Kong.
"Looking at how, through the microcosm of the family, how the country is coming to terms with moving into modernity, leaving behind its traditional, rural ways of life.
"And through this, as it transpires, a dysfunctional family, we learn a lot about the family but also about the country."
Shin is the first woman to win the award and the first South Korean to be shortlisted.