- [Han Kang] Han Kang’s The Vegetarian has won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize
- Han Kang’s multi-part novel published by Changbi, The Vegetarian was selected as the winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. On May 16, the judging panel for the Man Booker International Prize (chair: Boyd Tonkin) gave its reason for the selection: “[The Vegetarian is a] compact, exquisite and disturbing book [and] will linger long in the minds, and maybe the dreams, of its readers.” The Man Booker Prize has established itself as a prize enjoying international prestige since its creation in 1969, called one of the three major literary awards worldwide along with the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Prix Goncourt. A part of this prize, the Man Booker International Prize is awarded to single volumes of prose fiction that have been translated into English and published in the United Kingdom. Major writers who have received the Man Booker International Prize include Philip Roth (United States), Alice Munro (Canada), Ismail Kadare (Albania), and Chinua Achebe (Nigeria). In consideration of the importance of translation, a monetary award of 50,000 pounds (81.5 million Korean won) is equally divided between the author and translator of a winning work. Published by Changbi in 2007, The Vegetarian gathers the three interlinked novellas “The Vegetarian,” “Mongolian Mark,” and “Flaming Trees,” and the overseas copyright has been sold to a total of 25 countries and regions including the United States and Europe to date(as of July 2016). The Guardian of the United Kingdom assessed the work as a “novel shocking for its combination of amazingly beautiful prose and unbelievably violent contents,” and Publishers Weekly cited The Vegetarian as one of the “most anticipated books of spring 2016” as well.
- Vegetarian is a compilation of three novelettes which questions the meaning of desire, relationship, and existence through the lives of Yeong-hye and her family. The three stories, originally published separately, are put together in a linear order, but the perspective of the segments all differs showing the inner desires of the character. In the first segment Vegetarian, which takes the view of Young-hye’s husband, Young-hye suddenly declares that she will quit eating meat after having a grotesque dream filledwith images of blood. The husband is disturbed with this sudden abnormal behavior and starts thinking her as an embarrassment. The second segment Mongolian Blue Spot, which won the author the prestigious Yi Sang Literary Award, is told from the perspective of the husband of Young-hye’s sister. A video artist in profession, he suddenly feels a weird but irresistible attraction towards Young-hye after he hears that she still preserves the Mongolian spot at the age over twenty. The two eventually have an affair, which causes both of them ending up at the psychiatric ward. In the third and last segment, this time it’s In-hye, Young-hye’s sister, who is watching Young-hye in a vegetative state in hospital and moving toward death. But in fact it is Young-hye who is finally drawing near to what she had always yearned for – turning into a tree. A stunning work of chilling beauty by author Han Kang, one of the leading Korean novelists of her generation, who has a reputation to have a tragic sense of life uncharacteristic of her young age.