Thursday 22 September 2022

Book Review: Human Acts by Kang Han (Literary Fiction)

Title: Human Acts
Author: Kang Han
Publisher: Granta Books
Publication Date: 2016 (2014)
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Bought Copy

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.


Human Acts was another very visceral novel from Kang Han. My knowledge of the Gwangju Uprising was limited, so I was shocked by the level of the violence that took place, including the torture and repression that continued after the event. It is a harrowing tale that was beautifully and conscientiously told through the experiences of the characters who narrated the novel. With its often graphic depictions, this book will not be for everyone, but it is certainly an important, eye-opening read, and it gets 4.5 stars from me.

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