Han Kang and Deborah Smith Win 2016 Man Booker International Prize
Posted on May 16, 2016
Han Kang's novel The Vegetarian is the winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. The novel was translated by Deborah Smith.
The Vegetarian is the first novel by Han Kang. She is a creative writing instructor. Her second novel is called Human Acts. Korean translator Dobrah Smith only just started teaching herself Korean about six years ago.
Smith told BBC News, "I had no connection with Korean culture - I don't think I had even met a Korean person - but I wanted to become a translator because it combined reading and writing and I wanted to learn a language. Korean seemed like a strangely obvious choice, because it is a language which practically nobody in this country studies or knows."
CNN reports that the panel of judges called Smith's translation a "perfectly judged translation" and said it mirrored the original at every turn. Panel Chairman Boyd Tonkin says, "This compact, exquisite and disturbing book will linger long in the minds, and maybe the dreams, of its readers."
The author and translator will split the £50,000 prize (about $ U.S.). This was the first year the prize was awarded based on a single book and not an entire body of work.
Here is a list of the five other shortlisted books this year:
- A General Theory of Oblivion, José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), translated by Daniel Hahn (UK)
- The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante (Italy), translated by Ann Goldstein (USA)
- A Strangeness in My Mind, Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), translated by Ekin Oklap (Turkey)
- A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler (Austria), translated by Charlotte Collins (UK)
- The Four Books, Yan Lianke (China), translated by Carlos Rojas (USA)
Photo: Man Booker Prize