Human Acts

Human Acts

by Han Kang


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101906729
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 01/17/2017
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,288,304
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

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.

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The Boy, 1980

Excerpted from "Human Acts"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Han Kang.
Excerpted by permission of Crown/Archetype.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Human Acts: A Novel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
AndrewReadsBooks More than 1 year ago
Han Kang and translator Deborah Smith paint haunting portraits of the individuals and families impacted by the Gwangju uprising and it's after effects. The portrayals of the survivors and victims is intimate but respectful, and captures nuances of trauma and loss that are often lost when portraying such horrible events. Kang does an excellent job articulating the historic events of the novel, so much so that I almost didn't realize it was happening. Although the the Gwangju uprising was a new topic for me, I never felt like I didn't know what was going on. Kang does a remarkable job of tracing modern South Korean protests from the factory uprisings though Gwangju and into the modern effects. At the same time, the writing never feels like a history lesson (at least, until the epilogue). Similarly, Kang shows a gift for conveying the psychological experience of eaach participant. Rather than casting characters as archetypes - the strong resistance fighter, the worried mother, etc. - we see each person as an individual who struggles to balance obligations to family, country, self, and friends. The explorations of how people cope with the trauma of the event is fascinating; Kang really captures the idea that each individual must find a way to return to something resembling day to day life, and yet is fundamentally shaped by their losses. The questions of survivor's guilt, resistance, and the right to a personal political experience are explored well in later chapters. I especially appreciated the chapters on the loss of a child in the context of a politicized death, which was handle with surprising grace. The writing itself is particularly noteworthy here. Kang writes with beautifully descriptive language that both captures the visceral reality of situations and avoids unnecessary gore; the reader gets a strong sense that Kang wants to show the personal horrors of torture and massacre, but doesn't want them to distract or feel gratuitous. I also appreciated the structure of the novel - each individual shares a broader scope and perspective, allowing the reader to progressively integrate their understanding of events from new angles. As context builds, the reader is able to assign greater and greater meaning to each individual's actions in a way that wouldn't be possible had the full picture been shown all at once. Despite being, at it's core, a novel about injustice and trauma on a national scale, Human Acts manages to cultivate a sense of hope and intimacy. The result is a surprising novel that's well worth the read.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I don’t know what possessed me to read this novel. Inside was death, and I am not talking people dying, I am talking about individuals being shot at and bodies being brought in by the truckloads, being dumped off waiting for someone to claim them. These bodies, laying in rows, candles being placed in bottles beside the bodies hoping to mask the stench of their decaying flesh. Individuals having to write down on ledgers the clothing of these individuals for the faces were sometimes so broken, that they were hard to identify. Was it worth it? I had hoped so. I read, sometimes confused at what I was reading, the stories mingled together but the hope, the anticipation and the story was all the same. They were soldiers, the civilian militia, located in South Korea, the year was 1980. University students were fighting against the government and as I read, I shook my head in disgust. They were students, fighting for their rights, they were fighting against a trained army, did they think they could win? They waited, they hoped, they knew they were outnumbered but yet they fought and the outcome was not good. The ones that lived, the soldiers wrote on their backs with permanent markers their crimes and threw them in cells. The ones that died, they took rides in trucks, their bodies piled up until someone claimed them or their body claimed themselves. The prisoners in the cells, they were tortured for their lives were not over, it is never completely over.
mdemanatee More than 1 year ago
I expected to fly through this one at its short length. But this book demands to be read slowly. I still finished it rather quickly, but the heavier subject matter deserved more respect than a quick read. And the writing style (and translation I assume) makes sure you linger over the sentences, pulling everything you can from them. This book feels important.
archetype67 More than 1 year ago
Powerful but painful to read. I spaced the reading out because the imagery of death, of violence, of sorry, almost too perfectly rendered, stuck in my head long after I put the book down. Han Kang writes of the Gwangju uprisings in Korea. Few in the US are familiar with this episode in South Korean modern, post-Korean War history. The work, despite taking on such a historical moment, is solely in the hands of the characters, not an outside narrator describing war and violence from afar. This allows the reader to experience the horror and intensity from multiple perspectives. The narrative is not straightforward nor linear, and each is chapter is narrowly focused, yet all connection. Only through the finished novel does a larger picture of the impact and the 'history' begin to emerge. The intensely personal aspect provides a powerful lens to examine the issues of such rebellions and the horrors inflicted on those who dare challenge the powerful. Note: I received an ARC from the publisher but with no obligation to review. This review is my honest opinion of the work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago