Title: Human Acts
Author: Han Kang
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Asia, Historical fiction, War
Dates read: 22nd – 23rd July 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: How can that be possible?
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.
This was nothing like what I expected. Although, to be fair. I really didn’t know what to expect – after all, this is my first piece of Korean Literature. And my first novel that has been translated from this language. It was a great story. And I loved the ways in which some of the idiosyncrasies of another language worked their way into this story.
Effectively, this story works as six separate tales. That are all interrelated. They tell the stories of people whose lives were interconnected when their world came crashing down in war. I loved the set up – it showed so many different perspectives to the same events. And at different points. Some were in the present day, some in the past.
At the end of this novel. My heart just. Hurt. Seriously. Hurt. It was such a tragic tale. And. Just. Wow. So much heart pain. I sat there, staring at all of the happy books on my shelves that had far happier stories in it…
Some of the war stories that I’ve read have a bit of a positive light and spin. This is not one of those stories. There is such a feeling of tragedy. This is just all about the atrocities of humanity. And the horrible things that we do to one another. It is completely obvious why this is an award-winning novel. Definitely one that I would like to return to in the future…