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The Man Booker International Prize 2017

Han Kang

The Man Booker International Prize

From 2016 the Man Booker International Prize has evolved to encourage more publishing and reading of quality fiction in translation. From this date the prize is to be awarded annually on the basis of a single book.

The Man Booker International Prize was established in 2005, biennially rewarding an author for a body of work originally written in any language as long as it was widely available in English.

The 2017 Judges

The judges for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize:

Chaired by Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the panel consists of: translator Daniel Hahn; award-winning poet Helen Mort; Turkish author and academic Elif Shafak and Nigerian-born writer Chika Unigwe.

The 2016 Winner

The Vegetarian

Translated by Deborah Smith

Published by Portobello Books

Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more ‘plant-like’ existence, commits a shocking act of subversion. As her rebellion manifests in ever more bizarre and frightening forms, Yeong-hye spirals further and further into her fantasies of abandoning her fleshly prison and becoming – impossibly, ecstatically – a tree. Fraught, disturbing, and beautiful, The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another. 

Winning Author and Translator

Han Kang

Han Kang was born in Gwangju, South Korea, and moved to Seoul at the age of ten. She studied Korean literature at Yonsei University. Her writing has won the Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today's Young Artist Award, and the Korean Literature Novel Award. The Vegetarian, her first novel to be translated into English, was published by Portobello Books in 2015. Human Acts was published by Portobello books in 2016. She currently teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.

Han Kang

Deborah Smith

Deborah Smith (28) was monolingual until the age of 21. Deciding to become a translator upon finishing her degree in English Literature, with no previous experience in this field, she chose to pursue Korean due to a lack of English-Korean translators. Her translations from Korean include Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Human Acts, and Bae Suah’s The Essayist’s Desk and The Low Hills of Seoul. She recently founded Tilted Axis Press, a not-for-profit publishing house focusing on translations from Asia and Africa. She tweets as @londonkoreanist

The 2016 Shortlist

The 2016 Longlist