Poet Mah Chong-gi (left) and novelist Hwang Jeong-eun, winners of the 2015 Daesan Literary Awards (Daesan Foundation)
Poet Mah Chong-gi and novelist Hwang Jung-eun have been named this year’s awardees for the 23rd Daesan Literary Awards, Korea’s largest annual literary accolade.
Mah’s collection of poems “42 Shades of Green,” which deals with different colors the speaker encounters during a train ride, and Hwang Jung-eun’s “Let Me Continue,” a story of persistence through life’s hardships for one’s loved ones, were awarded the top prizes in the poetry and novel categories, respectively.
The jury praised Mah’s poetry for its “weighty resonance that rings through life’s experiences embroidered on a continuity of flowing language,” and Hwang’s prose for “deciphering the raison d’etre of a trivial and insignificant life through sentences of silence.”
The prize for each category is 50 million won ($43,900). The award ceremony will take place on Dec. 1 at the Korea Press Center in Jung-gu, Seoul.
Mah, 76, debuted in 1959 with the poem “Anatomy Class.” Prior to his writing career, he attended medical school at Yonsei and Seoul National universities, taught medicine at Ohio State University and practiced radiology in Ohio. His experiences as a doctor and compassion for humanity largely color his work, according to the Literary Translation Institute of Korea.
Hwang, 39, debuted in 2005 and has hosted a podcast titled “Radio Book Cafe” since 2013. Her novels include “One Hundred Shadows” (2010) and “The Barbaric Miss Alice” (2013).
In the play category, playwright Kim Jae-yeop won with “Chronical of Alibis.” Jan Henrik Dirks, who translated Korean writer Jung Young-moon’s “Vaseline-Buddha” into German, nabbed the prize for translation.
Kim’s play was heralded by the jury for “pioneering a narrative of a historical reality that intertwines personal and modern history,” while Dirks’ work was described as “a flowing translation of high literary value that announces the introduction of a third generation of translators.”
The awarded works will be translated into foreign languages and published overseas next year.
The Daesan Literary Awards body is run by the Daesan Foundation, which was established by Shin Yong-ho, founder of Korea’s largest bookstore Kyobo Book Center.
Those considered for the awards include all novels and poems published in Korea in book form from last August to July this year, all plays published or performed in the past two years and translations published in the last four years. A jury of 20 or so prominent literary figures has been deliberating since late August.
By Rumy Doo (firstname.lastname@example.org)