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Man Asian Literary Prize 2011 … Win For First Woman

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Today, 15th March 2012, in Hong Kong, Kyung-sook Shin, has changed the face of  Asian literature, by becoming the first woman to win the much coveted Man Asian Literary Prize.

She beat off an unprecedented shortlist of seven, to win the prestigious title and the accompanying prize money of US$ 30,000, with the translator of the novel, ‘Please Look After Mother’, Chi-young Kim being awarded US$ 5,000.

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THE BOOK

SYNOPSIS – ‘PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOM (MOTHER)’

A million-plus-copy best seller in South Korea and poised to become an international sensation—Please Look After Mom is the stunning, deeply moving story of a family’s search for their mother, and of the desires, heartaches, and secrets they discover she harbored within.

On a family visit to the city, Mom is right behind her husband when the train pulls out of Seoul Station without her, and she is lost, possibly forever. As her children argue over how to find her and her husband returns to their countryside home to wait for her, they each recall their lives with her, their memories often more surprising than comforting. Have they lived up to her expectations? Was she happy? Through the piercing voices of daughter, son, and husband, and through Mom’s own words in the novel’s shattering conclusion, we learn what happened that day, and explore an even deeper mystery—of motherhood itself.

At once steeped in the beauty and complexities of the East and rich with a universal tenderness, Please Look After Mom has a revelatory emotional power. You will never think of your mother the same way again after you’ve read this book.

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THE PRIZE

The Man Asian Literary Prize was founded in 2007. It is an annual literary award given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English, and published in the previous calendar year.

Submissions are invited through publishers based in any country, with the winning author receiving US$ 30,000 and any translator US$ 5,000

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THE AUTHOR

Kyung-sook Shin, was born in 1963, in a small farming village in Southern Korea. She moved at a young age to Seoul, to live with her older brother. It was here that she attended night school, whilst working during the day to support herself.

She is the author of numerous works of fiction and is one of South Korea’s most widely read and acclaimed novelists. She has been awarded many literary prizes, although ‘Please Look After Mom (Mother)’, is her frst book to be translated into English.

Currently a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York City, she lives in Seoul.

The book is published by Random House and there is a very in depth and comprehensive QandA session with the author, here.

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THE TRANSLATOR

Some not so small part in this exciting first, was played by the excellent translation skills of one – Chi-young Kim.

Chi-Young is a professional literary translator based in Los Angeles and is the daughter of veteran translator Yu Young-nan.

A graduate of Wesleyan University, she worked at a publishing company in New York before heading out west.

Chi-Young is the recipient of  several awards in her own right, including … The Daesan Foundation Translation Grant in 2005 and 2008, and the Modern Korean Literature Translation Award in 2003.

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Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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13 comments
  • That sounds like an amazing book. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything set in South Korea so I would definitely try it if I saw it in the library.

    • Hi Cath,

      There is an Asian book challenge out there somewhere, although I have to admit that I have never paid it much attention in the past. If I see it mentioned on a blog in the future, I shall definitely take a closer look at it.

      The book does sound fantastic and very moving and I think made even more poignant by the fact that the award has been won by a woman, which is a fantastic achievement and advancement for a country such as Korea.

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

    • Hi Naida,

      I think it is a testament to the quality of the writing, that someone who writes so prolifically in their own language, has had such an amazing impact on the international scene with her first book to be translated into English.

      Also a fantastic effort by the translator, as so many translations into English can really ‘lose something along the way’.

      This book is a definite for my reading list, a very moving and emotional story I should think.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, I always appreciate them.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      It definitely sounds like this one could be a thought provoking, powerful book.

      Just as sometimes a light easy read is called for, there are also occasions when a book which covers more moralistic and meaningful issues, albeit in fiction form, can be just what’s needed.

      There are just so many prizes and awards being handed out these days that it is rare for one to catch my attention the way that this one did.

      Thanks for taking an interest in the post and for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Enjoy your weekend.

    • Hi Linda,

      I really mean to find out more about the Asia reading challenge which is doing the rounds at the moment, just to see if there is anything else which catches my eye.

      Violet, over at ‘Violet Crush’ has a whole page dedicated to Asian book reviews, so I think that I shall probably start there.

      http://violetcrush.wordpress.com/reviews-for-east-and-southeast-asia-challenge/

      Have you travelled to where your daughter is living for a visit yet?

      I haven’t really travelled to too many places, but although Dave has made trips to just about every corner of Europe, US and The Middle East; The Far East and Asia aren’t places that he has ever been called upon to visit.

      Have fun seeking out some new books to read and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  • Good morning Yvonne. Have you ever considered changing your preferences so that I can reply direct to the lovely comments and sometimes questions you leave on my blogs?

    In response to your question about the Olive Tree and ladder photo, no it was not staged, just caught my eye as being a suitable composition.

    I hope you are having a peaceful Sunday, a windy morning here which is way I am on line and not olive pruning!

    • Hi Linda,

      I have to admit that Dave is the ‘techie’ in our house. I can run and operate the blog and other various activities on a day-to-day basis, but I have long since been banned from changing any settings, as he has several other business blogs on the same server and I think he is worried that I will end up by making a real mess of things. When he is little less stressed, I shall have him take a look at it all.

      We are on a timetable to convert our Treasure Trails into apps for mobile phones, so with over 50 trails, all of our available time is spent out and about testing the GPS functionality for them.

      It is such a lovely day again that we have already walked the 2.5 miles of our local Frome trail, have come home for a quick break, then are off again to do a second trail of similar length, probably in Bradford On Avon.

      Have a restful day, I may have sore feet by the end of my day!

      • I did not know about your Treasure Trails sounds fun. It would be great though if you were able to get him to look into this for you. I just cannot reply on the blogs themselves as my inbox would never cope with it. The same goes for subscribing to comment replies I just don’t and in fact rarely return to see replies. Except yours it seems at the moment!
        I do make an exception on the Book Review blog as I do not get that many comments and I think it is part of it to be able to share the conversations with others.

    • Hello Nan,

      There are just so many different awards being given out in the world of literature these days, that it is good to find one which has been received by a relative newcomer to the scene, who has written a piece with such meaning and emotion as ‘Please Look After Mother’ seems to have been.

      As you say, I think that it is going to be quite a sad read, however it is to be hoped that this will only be the start of good things to come from Kyung-sook Shin and that we may see more of her work being translated for the English speaking readers to enjoy.

      Thank you so much for visiting and for leaving a comment, I love to receive them and they are always much appreciated.

Written by Yvonne

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