Drama, Historical Fiction

Human Acts by Han Kang

I first heard of Han Kang when I read the premise of The Vegetarian. Naturally, I was intrigued and I wanted to read it; however, I couldn’t find a copy of that book anywhere in Canada. I just discovered that it has been approved, and will be sold at Canada’s largest bookseller, Indigo, soon, so hopefully I will have a review for it shortly! In the meantime, I was able to get approval for this advanced review copy… so here is my review:

This story takes place during a violent student uprising in South Korea. In the middle of this event, a young boy in middle school named Dong-ho is killed.

Each chapter of this story is told by a different character, who shares their agony over the pain and suffering that they have endured because of this tragic event. From Dong-ho’s best friend who also meets his demise, to an editor fighting against censorship, each has a traumatic experience that changes their lives forever. Through their collective heartbreak, we hear of the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.

This was a powerful and moving story, told in an unusual fashion. The story can be hard to read because of the brutality mentioned, so consider this a warning. There is nothing crass, but the author definitely does not mince words. This novel made me wish I knew more about South Korea’s history, especially about the Gwangju Uprising. I liked reading from the different perspectives of the characters but it did get quite confusing at times to keep everything straight and understand how the different characters were connected (if they were at all)! Overall, a brilliant job in depicting the brutality of a tragic historical event.

I received this novel as an advanced reader copy from Blogging for Books and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


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