South Korean author Han Kang has won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for her “unforgettably powerful” novel ‘The Vegetarian’ which deals with a woman’s rejection of human brutality and giving up of eating meat.
Kang, 45, beat writers including Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and international bestseller Elena Ferrante to win the 50,000-pound award last night which she shared with her novel’s translator Deborah Smith.
Published by Portobello Books, ‘The Vegetarian’ was selected unanimously among 155 books by a panel of five judges chaired by noted critic and editor Boyd Tonkin who described Kang’s work as “lyrical and lacerating”.
Kang, who currently teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, is already very popular in South Korea and has won Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today’s Young Artist Award, and the Korean Literature Novel Award.
‘The Vegetarian’ is her first novel to be translated into English by 28-year-old Smith who started learning Korean only at the age of 21.
— Man Booker Prize (@ManBookerPrize) May 16, 2016
“The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith, is an unforgettably powerful and original novel that richly deserves to win the Man Booker International Prize 2016,” said Tonkin.
The Vegetarian is a three-part novel that follows the story of Yeong-hye, a dutiful Korean wife who, spurred on by a dream, decides one day to become a vegetarian, something that is extremely uncommon in South Korean society.
This subversive act fractures her familial life and affects her relationships with the people around her, including her sister and her brother-in-law, an artist who becomes obsessed with her.
It is sensual, provocative and violent, ripe with potent images, startling colours and disturbing questions, the daily said.