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Korean Female Novelist Receives the Man Booker Award
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2016-09-20

1304 박광민
 
Korean female novelist Han Kang has received the 2016 Man Booker International Award for her sequence novel ‘The Vegetarian’. The novel is about a housewife who decides to become a vegetarian, and the catastrophic events that follow the event. The Man Booker Award is one of the most influential literature awards, among the Le Prix de Goncourt and the Nobel Prize of literature. It has been sponsored by the Man Group, a finance company and the Booker Group, a distribution company.
 
Since 1968, the prize had been awarded to writers only in the British common wealth, however in 2005 the international prize was created, and people from diverse nations were able to have the opportunity and honor of being awarded. Former winners of the Man booker award are Margaret Atwood, Yann Martel, and a number of other renowned authors. As Han Kang is the first Korean and the second Asian to receive the prize, and as it is rare and unprecedented case for female writers to receive such attention, she has become an international sensation.
 
Until now, the Korean language had been quite difficult to translate due to the diversity of expressions which cannot be put into other words. And even after it was translated, it often lost the original meaning and were distorted. Therefore, no matter how talented Korean writers were, the readers were mainly limited to Koreans, and their works of literature could not be introduced to readers abroad. Fortunately, Han Kang’s translator Deborah Smith was both professional in English and Korean, and invested much of her time and effort to make the closest translation to the original meaning as possible.
 
When translating a novel about a historical event that occurred in Korea, they shared about three pages of email containing questions and answers per each sentence. This could not have been done without affection towards Korean literature and a strong willingness to introduce it to the world. As a result, the English version of Han Kang’s novel was able to deliver every meaning the original version had intended to, and drew attention from readers around the globe.
 
Hopefully, this event would encourage more Korean authors to yield creative pieces of work, as it showed as the potential that Korean novels could be successful in terms of both literary value and profitability.
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