Tuesday 25 April 2023

Book Review: Greek Lessons by Kang Han (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: Greek Lessons
Author: Kang Han
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Publication Date: 2023 (2011)
Pages: 240
Format: Hardback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Bought Copy

In a classroom in Seoul, a young woman watches her Greek language teacher at the blackboard. She tries to speak but has lost her voice. Her teacher finds himself drawn to the silent woman, for day by day he is losing his sight.

Soon they discover a deeper pain binds them together. For her, in the space of just a few months, she has lost both her mother and the custody battle for her nine-year-old son. For him, it's the pain of growing up between Korea and Germany, being torn between two cultures and languages.

Greek Lessons tells the story of two ordinary people brought together at a moment of private anguish - the fading light of a man losing his vision meeting the silence of a woman who has lost her language. Yet these are the very things that draw them to one another. Slowly the two discover a profound sense of unity - their voices intersecting with startling beauty, as they move from darkness to light, from silence to expression.

Greek Lessons is a tender love letter to human intimacy and connection, a novel to awaken the senses, vividly conjuring the essence of what it means to be alive.


Greek Lessons is another amazing work from Kang Han. It is a poetical, lyrical and contemplative work that is more vignette than a story with a clear beginning, middle and end. It focuses on several themes while also musing on language and the way we communicate, along with the way we perceive the world around us. I think it is a book that would offer something new on each re-reading, as there are many different things you could take away from it. It's a work that is hard to describe, so I can only recommend others to go out and read it for themselves. It gets 4.5 stars from me.

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