It has just been announced that the first winner of this year’s reconfigured Man Booker International Prize is The Vegetarian by Han Kang translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith. A very well deserved win for one of the most startlingly original and surreal works of translated fiction I’ve read this year. Many congratulations to them both!
Myself and my fellow shadow panel members also voted for our winner last week from our own shortlist consisting of Ferrante, Lianke, NDiaye, Oe, Kang and de Kerangal. It was a close run thing between ‘The Vegetarian’ and Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe in the run-off vote but ‘The Vegetarian’ also came out top in the end, meaning that we are in agreement with the real judging panel for the second year in a row (last year, we selected The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck as our winner for the now-defunct Independent Foreign Fiction Prize). While ‘Death by Water’ had its devoted fans amongst our group, ‘The Vegetarian’ had wider support in both the longlist and shortlist stages and also featured in many of our early prediction lists before the longlist was even announced. Continue reading