“...it was only when we were shattered that we proved we had souls.” -Han Kang, Human Acts
“Why are we walking in the dark, let’s go over there, where the flowers are blooming. “ -Han Kang, Human Acts
“Please’ write your book so that no one will ever be able to desecrate my brother’s memory again. “ -Han Kang, Human Acts
A brilliant, masterful, poignant novel. It underscores the fact that oppressive regimes can destroy the lives of decent, hardworking people but not their soul. Essential reading today when the indolent POTUS can make flip remarks about destroying North Korea and killing thousands; and likely causing death and unimaginable suffering from collateral damage to South Koreans, Japanese, and others, including Americans.
Han offers the reader a glimpse into the horrific acts of violence surrounding the 1980 Gwangju uprising in South Korea, and their aftermath. Through multiple perspectives, the reader learns of the totalitarian violence, the omnipresence of fear, and cult of memory, that arose. The stories are separate, but usually have a connection through characters, places, or events. It can occasionally be difficult to understand the narrator's voice. The author has a unique use of the pronoun "you." This is a beautiful and sad historical fiction, about a time and place in history I was unaware of.
I reserved and then waited for weeks for this book. However vs The vegetarian which I read only in 2-3 readings, I cannot finish this book and return this after 1 week. The background and the characters in this novel make it difficult to continue reading...
This book does well in conversation with The Vegetarian. Heartbreakingly sad and graphic, but to a point it is difficult to put down instead of too much to keep reading. Han Kang strikes the balance between displaying atrocity without being overbearing on the reader. Her epilogue really brought the story into perspective.
The historic 1980 student uprising in Gwangju, South Korea sets the place for Kang's story. The reader is taken deep into the tragedy and torture experienced by various individuals - The Boy, The Editor, The Boy's Friend, The Prisoner,......each a victim of the brutality. Varying time periods and narrative of the character's background gives the reader brief respite from the horrific nature of the events. Kangs writing style is compelling enough to continue reading despite the violence and grief.
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