Han Kang  [ South Korea ]


Guest 2016.


Die Früchte meiner Frau

In: Koreanische Erzählungen


München, 2005

[Ü: Ki-Hyang Lee]



Seoul, 2013

[Ü: Jeon Seung-hee]

Human Acts

Portobello Books

London, 2016

[Ü: Deborah Smith]

Die Vegetarierin


Berlin, 2016

[Ü: Ki-Hyang Lee]

Han Kang was born in 1970 in Gwangju, South Korea and studied Korean literature at Yonsei University in Seoul.

Her literary career began in 1993, when one of her poems was published by the Korean quarterly magazine »Literature and Society«. Her first short story »Bulgeun dat« (tr. The scarlet anchor), published a year later, promptly won the »Seoul Shinmun« Spring Literary Contest. In 1995 she published a first volume of stories »Yeosu-ui Sarang« (tr. A convict’s love); further works followed. Her short story »Nae yŏja-ŭi yŏlmae« (»The Fruit of My Woman»), was published in German in 2005 under the title »Die Früchte meiner Frau« in the anthology »Koreanische Erzählungen« (tr. Korean tales), and by the British literary magazine »Granta« in 2016. It tells the surreal story of a woman who gradually transforms into a plant –– as her marriage becomes more and more loveless – to escape the hopelessness of her life. Her next novel »Chaesikju-uija« (2007; Eng. »The Vegetarian«, 2015) is about Yeong-hye, a young Korean wife, who rebels against her family and friends by becoming a vegetarian. This three-part novella portrays the protagonist’s inner turmoil and resulting rebellion from different perspectives, aligning »extraordinarily lyrical prose with incredibly brutal content«. In Yeong-hye’s self-destructive delusion she transforms into a plant. Her »moving and suggestive« novel »with its surprising depth of ›otherness‹« won Han – the first Korean author to receive this award – the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. Rootlessness, a central subject of Han’s work and characteristic of modern Korean society, and loneliness, sorrow and hopelessness are recurring themes, which she expresses in her poetic, symbolistic style. Han writes with a »volcanic intensity«, the Man Booker Jury concluded. »The Vegetarian« was also made into a film in 2009 and screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Her latest work »Human Acts« deals with the aftermath of the Gwangju uprising and massacre in 1980. Han felt a strong need to write about this event, which happened in her home town, and wanted to explore humanity’s propensity for barbarism and how extreme violence can be prevented.

The author has received numerous awards in Korea, among them the 1999 Korean Novel Award, a literary prize for best Korean novel, as well as the Yi-Sang Literary Award for »Monggo Banjeom« (2005; tr. Mongolian mark). Han also teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, and is a journalist and a musician. Han Kang lives near Seoul.


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