A book about how a woman’s decision to become a vegetarian tears apart her marriage, has won the 2016 Man Booker International prize. Last night, South Korean author, Han Kang’s book The Vegetarian (Portobello Books) was named the winner of the £50 000 prize for global fiction translated into English, which will be split with translator Deborah Smith.
The Vegetarian tells the story of Yeong-hye and her husband, whose marriage becomes strained when Yeong-hye decides to stop eating meat after having a strange dream. The synopsis of the book explains that 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.”
The judges’ decision was unanimous, and they described the work as “unforgettably powerful and original.”
This is the first time the Man Booker International Prize, which has joined forces with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, has been awarded on the basis of a single book. Previously, it was awarded every second year to an author for their entire body of work.
The other nominees on the shortlist were:
A General Theory of Oblivion (Harvill Secker), José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), Daniel Hahn (UK)
The Story of the Lost Child (Europa Editions), Elena Ferrante (Italy), Ann Goldstein (USA)
A Strangeness in My Mind (Faber & Faber), Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), Ekin Oklap (Turkey)
A Whole Life (Picador), Robert Seethaler (Austria), Charlotte Collins (UK)
The Four Books (Chatto & Windus), Yan Lianke (China), Carlos Rojas (USA)