Cheon Myeong-kwan's ‘Whale’ longlisted for 2023 International Booker Prize
Published : Mar 14, 2023 - 18:43
Updated : Mar 20, 2023 - 16:29
Screencapture from the homepage of the Booker Prizes -- Cheon Myeong-kwan's "Whale" (The Booker Prizes)

South Korean novelist Cheon Myeong-kwan's "Whale," has been longlisted for the 2023 International Booker Prize, one of the three largest literary awards in the world, the award's organizer announced Tuesday.

“Whale,” translated by Chi-Young Kim and published by Europa Editions on Jan. 19, was among the 13 preliminary nominees for the British prize, established in 2005 to honor an author and translator equally for a single work of fiction translated into English.

The story revolves around Geum-bok, an ambitious woman who goes from being a mountain village girl to a small-town entrepreneur; and her mute daughter Chun-hui.

The Booker prize called “Whale” a fiction that "brims with surprises and wicked humor," written by "one of the most original voices in South Korea." 

Cheon Myeong-kwan (left) and Chi-Young Kim (The Booker Prizes)

Cheon is the fifth Korean to be nominated for the prize. Bora Chung's “Cursed Bunny” and Park Sang-young’s “Love in the Big City” were nominated in 2022; Han Kang in 2016 and 2018; and Hwang Sok-yong in 2019. Han won the prize for “The Vegetarian” in 2016.

Judges said the novel is “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.”

Cheon debuted with his short story, “Frank and I,” and published the full-length novel "Whale" in 2004, which won the 10th Munhakdongne Novel Award.

“Whale” has been translated into eight languages.

By Hwang Dong-hee (