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Cheon Myeong-kwan's ‘Whale’ fails to win Booker Prize

Cheon Myeong-kwan's ‘Whale’ fails to win Booker Prize

Posted May. 25, 2023 07:59,   

Updated May. 25, 2023 07:59


Cheon Myeong-Kwan's (59, photo) novel “Whale” (2004) fell short of winning the British Booker Prize in the international category. On Tuesday (local time), the Booker Prize Steering Committee selected “Time Shelter,” a novel by Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov (55), among the six finalists for this year’s International Booker Prize in the international category, including “The Whale.”

Immediately after the awards ceremony, writer Cheon said, "To my surprise, I was able to get here with 'Whale,’ which has been out for almost 20 years. ‘Whale’ is very Korean, but I think there is a universal sentiment, marked by what everyone experiences and feels, and I see that being validated.” The International Booker Prize is considered one of the world's three major literary awards, along with the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Prix Goncourt in France.

In the publishing world, even though “Whale” did not win the award, it is said that the globalization potential of Korean literature has been confirmed. This is because it is the first time a Korean author's work has been nominated for the International Booker Prize for two consecutive years, following Bora Chung's short story collection “Cursed Bunny” (2017) last year. “Whale” has been translated into English, Japanese, Russian, German, Turkish, and Italian translation is in progress.

“Since Han Kang won the International Booker Prize in 2016 for ‘The Vegetarian’ (2007), the international recognition and influence of Korean literature have been reinforced,” said Kwak Hyo-hwan, director of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea. “K-Literature” has successfully passed the introductory period and is heading toward a growth period.”