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Human Acts
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Archive: Other Books > Human Acts [horizons] | Han Kang | 4 stars

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Idit | 1028 comments Human Acts by Han Kang
4 stars

I finished reading it last week, and I regret not writing about it when it was very fresh in my mind.
The author Kang Han was a child when her family moved away from the city Gwangju, a year before the uprising that resulted in a massacre of citizen, some of them middle school kids, by Korean soldiers.

I knew nothing about it. I didn't even realize that Korea wasn't a democracy until 1987. (I think I didn't realize Korea existed until the olympics. to my defence, I was a kid then)

The writing style is quite disjointed and meandering - but it's done on purpose. It reminded me of The Fox Was Ever the Hunter (that's even more disjointed). They both use this tool to put the reader in a chaotic and stressful state of mind and in both it's related to the totalitarian regime and being disempowered.
Each part is told from a different point of view. The first part is in second person (you), another teller keeps coming back to 7 slaps that were received.

Even though many years have passed, the book feels very raw. The author does not understand how something like this can happen (the massacre, torture) and life can continue, and she wants the readers to not understand that as well.

She questions what makes us human, she emphasises the body, the flesh, the discomfort and wounds, and at the same time the acts and choices that make us human
It's similar to the way Primo Levi is trying to understand what makes people human in war camps that degrades them.

It's a good book and worth reading.


message 2: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3029 comments I really want to read this author, she seems to be quite polarizing based on mixed reviews I read. Which, when I see very mixed reviews, I take to mean the author has a unique voice and that has me intrigued.

Thanks for the review!


message 3: by Joi (last edited Apr 01, 2019 01:02PM) (new) - added it

Joi (missjoious) | 3774 comments I really loved The Vegetarian, so I feel like I'd like this- it does sound pretty grim, and I hate that 2nd person narrative!

Nevertheless, added it to the TBR.


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