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(LEAD) S. Korean novelist Han Kang shortlisted for 2016 Man Booker Int'l Prize

All News 10:27 April 14, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 5-8)
By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean fiction writer Han Kang has been shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.

Han's "The Vegetarian," translated by Deborah Smith, is among the six books contending for the 2016 prize, the organizer announced on its website Thursday.

"The story of a Korean woman who awakens from uneasy dreams to find herself transformed into an enigma without a key. Evocative and suggestive, 'The Vegetarian' startles for the depth of its strangeness," the organizer said.

Critically acclaimed and a New York Times best-seller, 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.

In a phone interview with Yonhap News Agency on Thursday, Han said: "I am grateful and happy to hear the news, and it is really encouraging for me. I've struggling with my latest book, but the news gave me energy."

"The Vegetarian" is her first novel to be translated into English. Majoring in Korean Literature at Yonsei University in Seoul, the 45-year-old Korean novelist teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.

Smith, the 28-year-old translator, was monolingual until the age of 21. The British translated Han's book "Human Acts," which was published early this year by the London-based publisher Portobello books, which also published "The Vegetarian" in 2015.

Among the six shortlisted authors, five have been nominated for the first time, while Yan Lianke from China was a 2013 finalist. The final 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.


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