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.
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