Readers of Han Kang's English debut The Vegetarian might not be surprised to discover that her second English language translation, Human Acts, begins with a pile of bodies. Westerners are not usually familiar with the economic and political conditions which led to the Gwangju Uprising in South Korea in 1980, but the thing about the emotional truths behind human acts is that they are often disturbing, heartrending, senseless, and so very familiar. Kang seeks not to inform, but to awaken that which we instinctively recognize and draw close--the fact of our shared humanity. The various fictional voices--a student, a factory girl, a prisoner, a dead child's mother--represent the threads that bind trauma to memory and give birth to a history.
From the internationally bestselling author of THE VEGETARIAN, a "rare and astonishing" (The Observer) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice
In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed. The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho's best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho's own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice. An award-winning, controversial bestseller, HUMAN ACTS is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns tracing the harsh reality of oppression and the resounding, extraordinary poetry of humanity.
About the Author
Han Kang was born in 1970 in South Korea. In 1993 she made her literary debut as a poet, and was first published as a novelist in 1994. A participant in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, Han has won the Man Booker International Prize, the Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today's Young Artist Award, and the Manhae Prize for Literature. She currently works as a professor in the department of creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts. www.writerhankang.com