While on a writer’s residency, a nameless narrator wanders the twin white worlds of the blank page and snowy Warsaw. THE WHITE BOOK becomes a meditation on the color white, as well as a fictional journey inspired by an older sister who died in her mother’s arms, a few hours old. The narrator grapples with the tragedy that has haunted her family, an event she colors in stark white–breast milk, swaddling bands, the baby’s rice cake-colored skin–and, from here, visits all that glows in her memory: from a white dog to sugar cubes.
As the writer reckons with the enormity of her sister’s death, Han Kang’s trademark frank and chilling prose is softened by retrospection, introspection, and a deep sense of resilience and love. THE WHITE BOOK–ultimately a letter from Kang to her sister–offers powerful philosophy and personal psychology on the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit, and our attempts to graft new life from the ashes of destruction.