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Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood nominated for Pak Kyongni Prize

June 8, 2023 - 16:36 By Hwang Dong-hee
(Clockwise from top) Antonio Lobo Antunes, Christoph Ransmayr, Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood have been nominated for the 12th Pak Kyongni Prize. (Courtesy of Grove Atlantic, Magdalena Weyrer, Beowulf Sheehan and British Council)

Four international writers, including Cormac McCarthy of the US and Canada's Margaret Atwood, have been nominated for the 12th Pak Kyongni Prize, according to the award’s organizers on Wednesday.

Antonio Lobo Antunes from Portugal and Christoph Ransmayr from Austria are the other two foreign nominees.

A novelist and retired medical doctor, Antunes has long been considered a strong contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is widely recognized for “The Land at the End of the World,” which reflects his personal experience as an army doctor deployed to Angola during the Portuguese Colonial War, and “The Inquisitors' Manual,” which portrays the decline and decay of a family and society during totalitarian rule.

Ransmayr has achieved global recognition for his novel “The Last World,” a rewrite of Ovid’s "Metamorphoses," and “The Terrors of Ice and Darkness,” which tells the story of a young Italian man who disappeared in 1981 while investigating the 1872–74 Austro-Hungarian North Pole expedition.

McCarthy is widely regarded as one of the greatest contemporary American writers. He won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his post-apocalyptic novel “The Road,” which follows the grueling journey of a father and his young son across ash-covered land years after a cataclysmic event. His neo-Western crime thriller “No Country for Old Men” was adapted into a film in 2007.

Canadian literary star Atwood is a two-time winner of the Booker Prize. Her renowned works include “The Handmaid’s Tale” and its blockbuster follow-up “The Testaments.” The futuristic dystopian novels are set in a patriarchal, white supremacist and totalitarian state, exploring themes of subjugated women in a patriarchal society, loss of female agency and individuality.

The annual award is an international literary award based in South Korea, established in 2011 to honor the literary legacy of novelist Pak Kyong-ni (1926-2008), renowned for her epic saga “Toji (The Land).” The 16-volume series tells the story of five generations of a wealthy Korean family from South Gyeongsang Province, through the end of the Joseon Dynasty, Japanese occupation and independence. Pak wrote the story from 1969 to 1994.

The literary award aims to recognize novelists worldwide who have significantly influenced the course of literature while preserving its intrinsic value, according to the Toji Cultural Foundation.

The prize comes with a certificate of merit, a plaque and an award sum of 100 million won ($76,400).

The 12th Pak Kyongni Prize is co-hosted by the Toji Cultural Foundation and Wonju City.

Previous recipients include inaugural winner Choi In-hoon, author of “The Plaza,” Bernhard Schlink from Germany, Amos Oz from Israel, Ngugi wa Thiong'o from Kenya, Richard Ford from the US, Ismail Kadare from Albania and Yun Heung-gil from Korea. Last year, Lebanese-French writer Amin Malouf received the award.

This year's winner will be announced in October.