“The Vegetarian, a novel about a woman who ‘wants to reject human brutality’ and gives up eating meat, has won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.
The book was translated by Deborah Smith, who only started teaching herself Korean in 2010.
Judging panel chairman Boyd Tonkin said South Korean author Han Kang’s work was ‘unforgettably powerful and original’.”
The story behind the English translation is interesting:
“Smith, whose only language was English until she was 21, decided to become a translator on finishing her English Literature degree having noticed the lack of English-Korean translators.
She said she was ‘certainly not a born Korean speaker’ and still spoke Korean ‘very much like somebody who learned it from a textbook’.
‘I had no connection with Korean culture – I don’t think I had even met a Korean person – but I wanted to become a translator because it combined reading and writing and I wanted to learn a language.’
‘Korean seemed like a strangely obvious choice, because it is a language which practically nobody in this country [England] studies or knows’.”
This is definitely going on my August / USA vacation reading list.