|Cho Nam-joo's novel 'Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982' has been nominated for the translated literature category of the National Book Awards, a prestigious U.S. literary prize. Korea Times file|
By Do Je-hae
Korean novelist Cho Nam-joo has been nominated for the National Book Awards, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the U.S.
Her 2016 novel "Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982" is among the nominees for the category of translated literature, according to an announcement this week from the website of the National Book Foundation, the presenter of the awards.
The novelist's debut work highlights the struggles women in their 30s face in contemporary Korean society, in which they still face gender inequality at home and in the workplace. The novel has been adapted into a Korean film as well.
"'Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982' by Cho Nam-Joo and translated from the Korean by Jamie Chang has sold over 1 million copies and has been translated into 12 languages, signaling the relatability of the everywoman main character, whose life of frustration and submission is recounted to the male psychiatrist her husband sends her to," the foundation said in a statement.
Founded in 1950, the annual award is given out in five categories ― fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature and young people's literature. The winners will be announced on Nov. 18.
Cho has said that the novel reflects her own experiences as a mother and wife. "I want to make a record of the lives and concerns of ordinary women," Cho said during a meeting in 2017 with the late Justice Party lawmaker Roh Hoe-chan. During a lunch at Cheong Wa Dae with floor leaders of five parties in May 2017, Roh gave her novel as a gift to President Moon Jae-in to encourage the President to renew his attention to the problems faced by Korean women like the main character of Cho's novel.
Cho is among the rare cases of Korean novelists capturing international media attention, following the international success of Shin Kyung-sook's "Please Look After Mom." Cho's quick rise to prominence as a novelist has captured the attention of foreign media, seeing the writer featured in outlets such as the Financial Times and the New York Times.