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(LEAD) Cheon Myeong-kwan's 'Whale' longlisted for 2023 International Booker Prize

20:52 March 14, 2023

(ATTN: UPDATES with novelist's remarks in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean novelist Cheon Myeong-kwan's "Whale" has been longlisted for the 2023 International Booker Prize, the British literary awards said Monday.

Cheon's 2004 novel, translated into English by Kim Chi-young, was among the 13 preliminary nominees announced by the Booker Prize Foundation on its website.

The Booker Prize introduced "Whale" as a collection of stories about the lives of linked characters in a remote village in South Korea.

"An adventure-satire of epic proportions, which sheds new light on the changes Korea experienced in its rapid transition from pre-modern to post-modern society," judges wrote. "A fiction that brims with surprises and wicked humour, from one of the most original voices in South Korea."

A shortlist of six books will be announced April 18, and the final winner will receive the award at a ceremony in London on May 23. The top prize of 50,000 pounds (US$65,000) will be shared equally by the author and the translator.

The Booker Prize is considered one of the three largest literary awards in the world. The International Booker Prize was established in 2005 to honor distinguished international works of fiction translated into English.

This image from the homepage of the Booker Prize shows the cover of Cheon Myeong-kwan's novel "Whale," which is longlisted for the 2023 International Booker Prize. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Following the announcement, Cheon said he was "lucky" to be included in the longlist of the prestigious award with his debut novel he wrote nearly 20 years ago.

Cheon, who worked as a screenwriter in the 1990s and 2000s, said "Whale" is an essential work of his life, as it allowed him to make a living as a novelist. It received the Munhakdongne New Writer Award, a major literary award in South Korea.

"'Whale' is my debut novel and my most famous work," Cheon said in a phone interview with Yonhap News Agency. "I left the movie business and wrote my first novel, which sold well and received an award, paving the way for my literary career. I think writing 'Whale' was one of the best things I have ever done in my life."

South Korean novelist Cheon Myeong-kwan is seen in this file photo taken Feb. 21, 2010. (Yonhap)


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