Translated by: Deborah Smith
Publisher: Portobello Books, 2016.
Link to online store *
Gwangju, South Korea, 1980. In the wake of a viciously suppressed student uprising, a boy searches for his friend’s corpse, a consciousness searches for its abandoned body, and a brutalised country searches for a voice. In a sequence of interconnected chapters the victims and the bereaved encounter censorship, denial, forgiveness and the echoing agony of the original trauma. Human Acts is a universal book, utterly modern and profoundly timeless. Already a controversial bestseller and award-winning book in Korea, it confirms Han Kang as a writer of immense importance.
Susie Orbach, the psychotherapist and critic who discussed the novel with Han at the Free Word Centre at a book launch in January 2016 confessed that she found the book “so gruelling I had to stop”, and described it as “heart-stoppingly difficult and moving”. Philippe Sands, who performed a similar role at the launch at Foyles a couple of days later said he was “utterly and totally gripped”.Yup. This is essential reading, and is in LKL's handful of top recommendations.
* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.