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Writer Han Kang is longlisted for 2016 Man Booker Int'l Prize

All News 15:04 March 10, 2016

By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean fiction writer Han Kang has been nominated for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, the first time for a Korean novelist.

According to the announcement on the organizer's website Thursday, Han Kang's "The Vegetarian," translated by Deborah Smith, is among the 13 books contending for the 2016 prize.

The longlisted candidates, picked from 155 authors from 12 countries, were selected by a panel of five judges who are renowned journalists and novelists.

The annual contemporary fiction award is designed to "invite readers to share a thrilling journey of discovery across the finest fiction in translation," said Boyd Tonkin, chair of the judging panel, on the website.

"The 13 books that the judges have chosen not only feature superb writing ... from Finland to South Korea ... but our selection highlights the sheer diversity of great fiction today," he said.

Critically acclaimed and a New York Times bestseller, the novel depicts a modern-day Korean life where disturbing recurring nightmares force the heroine Yeong-hye to drop her eating habits and become a vegetarian. In a country where meat, most of the time, is the center of meals and conformity overrides individuality, her family and husband, shocked and in disbelief, regard it as an act of subversion. They try to change her mind in a forceful way, and Yeong-hye, in turn, turns more defiant and detached.

Among the 13 nominees, six books will be shortlisted on April 14, and the winner will be announced on May 16. The top prize of £50,000 (US$70,995) will be equally divided and given to the author and the translator.

Separately, novelist Han is scheduled to attend the March 16-20 Paris Book Fair. At the event, Korea is the guest of honor in celebration of the 130th anniversary of diplomatic ties between South Korea and France.


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