Literature

From Seoul to the World Stage: Hwang Sok-yong’s Novel “Mater 2-10” on the Booker Prize Shortlist

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Explore the journey of “Mater 2-10” by Hwang Sok-yong, a powerful story that transcends borders and has landed a coveted spot on the prestigious International Booker Prize shortlist. Dive into Korean history and social issues through this captivating tale.

Calling all fans of Korean culture! There’s exciting news from the world of literature. South Korean author Hwang Sok-yong’s novel “Mater 2-10” has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2024 International Booker Prize!

While the Hallyu wave is taking over the world by storm, one K-pop idol and K-drama at a time, Korean literature is not far off! Literature is the cornerstone of any culture and Korean literature is no different. And it is apparent fromThe International Booker Prize nomination for “Mater 2-10.”

Just like K-Pop and K-dramas offer a glimpse into Korean music, fashion, and societal trends, “Mater 2-10” provides a window into Korea’s historical and social landscape.

Mater 2-10 – A Story of Resilience and Social Issues

The multi-generational saga, translated by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae, promises a captivating journey through Korean history. It is “an epic tale” of Korean history! It weaves together the lives of ordinary Koreans over a century, starting from the Japanese colonial era occupation through liberation and into the 21st century.

Mater 2-10 by Hwang Sok-yong | Goodreads Hwang Sok-yong, Mater 2-10, International Booker Prize
Mater 2-10 by Hwang Sok-yong | Goodreads

The story follows Jino, a factory worker taking a daring stand against injustice. Sitting atop a chimney in protest, he becomes a symbol of resilience against corporate greed. Will he find justice?

Mater 2-10 is a vital reminder that, while the Berlin Wall may have fallen, the cold war lives on in a divided Korea. It traces the roots of postwar persecution of labour activists smeared as “commies”.

Maya Jaggi, The Guardian

Hwang Sok-yong – A towering figure in Korean literature

Life of Hwang Sok-yong has been intricately woven with the country’s turbulent history. He was born in 1943 during the Japanese occupation of Korea. This backdrop undoubtedly shaped his writing, often tackling themes of social justice, political struggle, and the resilience of the Korean people.

He has been a vocal advocate for democracy and human rights in South Korea. In 1993, he was imprisoned for seven years for an unauthorized trip to North Korea, a controversial act aimed at promoting cultural exchange.

He has garnered numerous awards within South Korea, including the Manhae Literary Prize and the Daesan Literature Prize. Now, with the International Booker Prize nomination, he gets a well-deserved global recognition.

International Recognition for Korean Literature

This nomination is a significant recognition for Korean literature on the global stage. The International Booker Prize, established in 2005, celebrates outstanding translated fiction. “Mater 2-10” being shortlisted is a testament to the power of Korean storytelling.

A Unique Perspective

The Booker Prize Foundation commends the novel for its vivid portrayal of everyday Koreans facing historical upheavals. Readers can expect to encounter themes of social justice, labor struggles, and the complexities of national identity.

The judges praised “Mater 2-10” for offering a perspective rarely seen in Western literature. The story unfolds through the eyes of Jino, a factory worker protesting unfair dismissal by perching atop a chimney. This unique vantage point promises a fresh and thought-provoking exploration of Korea’s past and present.

Stay tuned for the Winner Announcement!

Find out about the final winner at a ceremony in London on May 21st, 2024. Whether you’re a Korean lit enthusiast or simply enjoy a powerful story, “Mater 2-10” is definitely a book to watch out for!

Wrapping up

So, the next time you’re enjoying a K-Pop song or a heart-fluttering K-drama, consider venturing into the world of Korean literature. You might just discover a treasure trove of stories waiting to be explored!

Have you read any translated Korean literature before? What are your favorite historical fiction novels?

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