May 19, 2016 08:13
Deborah Smith, the joint winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize along with author Han Kang, lives in London where she heads a nonprofit imprint called Tilted Axis Press.
Reading English literature at Cambridge University, Smith started studying Korean in 2010 when she took a master program at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.
She had never eaten Korean food or even met a Korean until she finished her first degree. The reason she picked Korean for her master's was merely that there was an almost complete lack of translators and she sensed a professional opportunity. She moved to Korea for a while to get started but now says she is very emotionally invested in Korean literature.
Translating the prize-winning novel "The Vegetarian" took her just four months back in 2013, and it was published in the U.K. by Portobello Books in January last year.
The chairman of the Booker judges this year, Boyd Tonkin, had high praise. "The point about this prize is that it's totally equal between the author and the translator, and we feel this strange and brilliant book has absolutely found the right voice in English," he said.
Prior to the announcement of the prize, Smith told the Chosun Ilbo, "I was drawn by how Han explored the dark and violent aspect of human nature through a perfectly calculated and moderated style of writing."
Only 28, Smith has also translated Han's novel, "Human Acts," which was published early this year.
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