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Writer of the Year Award

The first fruits of the rookie authors of this year

 

2020.02.03

 

Writer of the Year Award

 

If overseas publishers have one yardstick that they choose to adopt when they encounter Korean authors and works, it is whether the work received a literary award in Korea. Winning a literary award in Korea does not guarantee success in the international market, but it can be a reference that the work’s value and popularity among readers are recognized. Therefore, whether a work has won a literary award in Korea has become a criterion for overseas publication companies for assessment.
There are many literary awards in Korea. Each of the awards has different characteristics and standards for awardees depending on the aim and host of the award. Special Project of the webzine K-Book Trends introduces each of the unique literary awards in Korea. This part answers questions from overseas readers about the “K-Book Award”, by providing information on the authority, characteristics, and awarded works and authors of each literary award.
The first Korean literary award is “Writer of the Year Award.” This award has been presented by Minumsa, one of the major publishers in Korea since 1977. Created to break free from the modernity of Korean literature, the award began its history with the launch of Literature of the World. With the first-ever awardees Han Su-San, Lee Mun-Yeol, and Jeong Mi-Kyeong, the award has been associated with the birth of master authors in Korea. Also, with its authority recognized in the Korean literary world, it has been modifying its operational style across the generations, mulling over selections of works by representative authors of the time.

 

 

The organizing committee of “Writer of the Year Award” stated that they hope the
award can be a warm encouragement for young writers and a humble guide for readers.

 

 

“Writer of the Year Award” chooses from works published between October of the previous year and September of the current year, rather than opening for work submissions. Also, to provide a level playing field for young authors, qualified works for evaluation are limited to the first solo book of rookie writers (only Korean novels such as long novels and novel collections). Evaluation is composed of two stages: first, a survey by publishers and readers, and second, a final screening of experts from each field. Awarded works are announced in November, and are introduced on Littor, a bi-monthly literary magazine of Minumsa. Also, a medal and support fund of 20 million won are granted to the awardees.
In 2019, the qualification for the award was narrowed to the first novel book of rookie writers. The intention is to give a warm round of applause to the first accomplishment of young authors that are capable of guaranteeing the artistic values of Korean literature. The first awarded works in 2019 were If We Cannot Move at the Speed of Light by Kim Cho-Yeop, and Juliana’s Tokyo by Han Jung Hyun; the judges agreed to choose works that ruminate on the meaning of “today”, with “generation” and “challenge” as keywords. The organizing committee of “Writer of the Year Award” stated that they hope the award can be a warm encouragement for young writers and a humble guide for readers.

* Website of the "Writer of the Year Award": http://minumsa.minumsa.com/award


“Writer of the Year Award” has been a meaningful indicator in the Korean literary world, ceaselessly transforming with time. We introduce to you the awarded works of the past 5 years below.

 


The 43rd award, 2019 – Kim Cho-Yeop, Han Jung Hyun (Cowinners)

 

<If We Cannot Move at the Speed of Light (Hubble)>, <Juliana’s Tokyo (Swimming Kul)>

If We Cannot Move at the Speed of Light (Hubble), Juliana Tokyo (Swimming Kul)

 

With her book If We Cannot Move at the Speed of Light, Kim Cho-Yeop depicts the world of imagination with a unique atmosphere. You can find seven stories that make us look back on our lives in her first short story collection that has been endlessly explores the boundary between normal and abnormal, success and failure, and mainstream and non-mainstream.
With her short novel 'Language of Adolf and Albert' winning the annual spring literary contest of Donga Ilbo in 2015, Han Jung Hyun began her career as a writer. Her award winning work Juliana Tokyo has its background in a club that had been popular among young Japanese women between 1991 and 1994. This novel talks about the life of single mothers and prostitutes, and aspects of sexual minorities and hatred while describing the female laborers in the 1970s and 80s.

 

 

The 42nd award, 2018 – Bae Soo-Ah

 

<Snake and Water (Munhakdongne)>

Snake and Water (Munhakdongne)

 

The ninth short story collection Snake and Water of Bae Soo-Ah, who has been steadily building a fan base with her works, presents a captivating unfamiliarity through an imaginative world unlike any other. Readers discover different landscapes that are like “a dream inside a dream” where you can endlessly escape from fixed time and space with stories that are far from purity and innocence.

 

 

The 41st award, 2017 – Cho Nam-Joo

 

<Kim Ji Young, Born in 1982 (Minumsa)>

Kim Ji Young, Born in 1982 (Minumsa)

 

Kim Ji Young, Born in 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo has been a hugely popular work in Korea with the story being adapted into a movie as well. One element of the novel is a confession based on the memory of a woman named Kim Ji-Young born in 1982. Another element of the novel is the various kinds of statistics and articles that back her confession. It has been acclaimed by readers because it perfectly captures the general daily lives of Korean women in their 30s.

 

 

The 40th award, 2016 – Jang Kangmyung

 

<The Comments Army (EunHaengNaMu)>

Team Aleph (EunHaengNaMu)

 

The sixth long novel of Jang Kangmyung, Team Aleph was also awarded the third Jeju 4.3 Peace Literary Award. The motif of the novel is the illegal election intervention by the National Intelligence Service Korea. The book talks about the story of the organization that approached progressive online websites in the presidential election in 2012 and left abusive comments to manipulate public opinion and damage the influence those websites.

 

 

The 39th award, 2015 – Koo Byung-Mo

 

<I Hope It's Not Just Me (Moonji Publishing)>

I Hope It's Not Just Me (Moonji Publishing)

 

I Hope It's Not Just Me is the second short story collection by Koo Byung-Mo. The book tells a story about the before and after of the misfortunes Korea had to go through, and the thinking process as a whole. Rather than giving a lesson to help each other or scold wrongdoings, the book vividly depicts people of today who habitually shift responsibility, turn a blind eye, neglect, and self-justify with its eight stories.

 

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Juliana Tokyo, Han Jung Hyun, Swimming Kul
Team Aleph, Jang Kangmyung, EunHaengNaMu

 

 

 


Written by Choi Ha-Yeong

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Choi Ha-Yeong

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