The Korea Herald


Hwang Sok-yong’s 'Mater 2-10' longlisted for 2024 International Booker Prize

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : March 12, 2024 - 09:52

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Hwang Sok-yong's Hwang Sok-yong's "Mater 2-10" translated by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae (Scribe Publications)

South Korean literary giant Hwang Sok-yong’s “Mater 2-10” has been longlisted for the 2024 International Booker Prize, the organizers of the British literary awards announced Monday.

"Mater 2-10," co-translated by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae, and published by Scribe Publications, was among the 13 books in the longlist for what is one of the world's most prestigious literary awards.

This is the second time Hwang has been longlisted for the award. In 2019, his work “At Dusk,” also translated by Kim-Russell, secured a spot on the longlist.

The organizer introduced the novel as “an epic, multi-generational tale that threads together a century of Korean history, written by one of South Korea’s most important authors.”

Centered on three generations of a family of rail workers and a laid-off factory worker staging a high-altitude sit-in, “Mater 2-10” (titled “Three Generations of Railworkers” in Korean) depicts the lives of ordinary working Koreans. The narrative unfolds from the Japanese colonial era, through liberation and into the 21st century, spanning over 100 years.

Judges said Hwang “highlighted the political struggles of the working class with the story of a complicated national history of occupation and freedom.”

This marks the seventh time that a South Korean novel has been nominated for the esteemed award that was established in 2005.

Cheon Myeong-kwan’s “Whale,” translated by Chi-Young Kim, was shortlisted in 2023. Bora Chung’s “Cursed Bunny” and Park Sang-young’s “Love in the Big City” -- both translated by Anton Hur -- were shortlisted and longlisted, respectively, in 2022. Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian,” translated by Deborah Smith, won the prize in 2016, while Han’s “The White Book,” also translated by Smith, was shortlisted in 2018.

A shortlist of six books will be announced on April 9, with the winning title to be announced on May 21.