Angolan heartthrob José Eduardo Agualusa missed out as Korean Han Kang was announced the winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2016 this year with her book The Vegetarian. The book was translated into English by Deborah Smith. The winner was announced at a grand ceremony last night in London, UK.
The Man Booker Prize International is given to a book written in any non-English language but available in English, read translated into English. The prize first announced in 2005 and sponsored by the Man Group is worth £50,000 to the prize winner; if there is a translator involved they share the money equally like in this case. Previous winners of the prize include Nigerian legend Chinua Achebe and Nobel Prize winner 2013 Alice Munro.
This year, the winning book which was published by Portobello Books in 2015 is about a couple whose relationship was ruined when one of the two decided to become a vegetarian. This isn’t the first prize for this first time novelist as she has already won the Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today’s Young Artist Award, and the Korean Literature Novel Award for her writing. Her new book Human Acts also published by Portobello books will be entering the market next week.
On her part, the translator Deborah Smith who founded Tilted Axis Press, a publishing house focusing on translations from Asia and Africa has other translations from Korean apart from Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Human Acts. She has also translated Bae Suah’s The Essayist’s Desk and The Low Hills of Seoul.
This process started out earlier in the year with the announcement of a longlist in March that included names like DR Congo’s Fiston Mwanza Mujila and Angola’s José Eduardo Agualusa. The shortlist that was announced in April continued the African interest as José Eduardo Agualusa from Angola made the cut. Unfortunately the Angolan heartthrob failed to win the prize at the ceremony that was announced yesterday