Kyung-sook Shin wins Man Asian literary prize

Kyung-sook Shin Please Look After Mom has sold almost 2 million copies in South Korea

South Korean author Kyung-sook Shin has become the first woman to win the Man Asian Literary Prize.

Please Look After Mom details a family's search for their mother who goes missing in Seoul Station.

"The journey to find the mother in the book is the journey to regain what we've lost in the progress of modernity," Shin said.

The award is open to novels published by Asian writers, written in or translated into English.

"As a Korean writing in Korea in the Korean language, to be winning this prize feels like a new start in more ways than one and that makes me happy," Shin said.

"I feel like to think about mother is to think about oneself, a reflection of oneself."

'Intimate portrait'

BBC special correspondent and chair of judges Razia Iqbal, announcing the winner at a Hong Kong ceremony, said the book was a "beautiful, poignantly told tale" with a "compelling structure".

"It's a very intimate portrait of a family's search for their mother, but it's also a portrait of Korea, post the Korean War," she said.

The shortlist was dominated by south Asian writers with Pakistan's Jami Ahmad nominated for The Wandering Falcon.

India was represented by Jahnavi Barua, for Rebirth, Rahul Bhattacharya, for The Sly Company of People Who Care, and Amitav Ghosh, for River of Smoke.

The Man Asian Literary Prize was first awarded in 2007 to Chinese writer Jiang Rong, for Wolf Totem.

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