HUMAN ACTS by Han Kang
The next novel by the 2016 Man Booker International Prize–winning author of THE VEGETARIAN
- Imprint: Hogarth
- On sale: January 17, 2017
- Price: $22.00
- Pages: 224
- ISBN: 9781101906729
Advance Praise for Human Acts
“Kang explores the sprawling trauma of political brutality with impressive nuance and the piercing emotional truth that comes with masterful fiction . . . a fiercely written, deeply upsetting, and beautifully human novel.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Kang is an incredible storyteller who raises questions about the purpose of humanity and the constant tension between good and evil through the heartbreaking experiences of her characters. Her poetic language shifts fluidly from different points of view, while her fearless use of raw, austere diction emulates the harsh conflicts and emotions raging throughout the plot. This jarring portrayal of the Gwangju demonstrations will keep readers gripped until the end.” —Booklist (starred)
“Han’s novel is an attempt to verbalize something unspeakable . . . [B]y placing the reader in the wake of Dong-ho’s memory, preserved by his family and friends, Han has given a voice to those who were lost in the Gwangju Uprising.” —Publishers Weekly
“Human Acts is elegantly written, unflinchingly brutal, and absolutely real. It is not so much a novel as it is a profound act of connection; it is beyond powerful. Han Kang is what most writers spend their lives trying to be: a fearless, unsentimental teller of human truths.” —Lisa McInerney, Baileys Women’s Prize–winning author of The Glorious Heresies
“This is a book that could easily founder under the weight of its subject matter. Neither inviting nor shying away from modern-day parallels, Han neatly unpacks the social and political catalysts behind the massacre and maps its lengthy, toxic fallout. But what is remarkable is how she accomplishes this while still making it a novel of blood and bone. . . . By choosing the novel as her form, then allowing it to do what it does best—take readers to the very center of a life that is not their own—Han prepares us for one of the most important questions of our times: What is humanity?” —Eimear McBride, The Guardian (UK)
“With exquisitely controlled eloquence, the novel chronicles the tragedy of ordinariness violated. . . . In the echo chambers of Han’s haunting prose, precisely and poetically rendered by Smith, the sound of that heartbeat resonates with defiant humanity.” —New Statesman (UK)
“A technical and emotional triumph . . . A conversation of which we rarely hear both sides: the living talking to the dead, and the dead speaking back.” —Sunday Telegraph (UK) (Five-star review)
“A rare and astonishing book, sensitively translated by Deborah Smith, Human Acts enrages, impassions, and, most importantly, gives voices back to those who were silenced.” —The Observer (UK)
“Han Kang’s writing is clear and controlled and she handles the explosive, horrifying subject matter with great warmth.” —The Times (UK)
“Searing . . . In Human Acts [Kang] captures the paradox of being human: the meatlike, animal reduction of our humanity—the dead bodies of the beginning chapter—alongside our ability to love and suffer for our principles, and die for them, that make us truly human. She is excellent in summarizing this paradox. . . . If it hopes to tie the personal with the political, it does the former so much more powerfully: a mother thinking of her dead son, for example, displays literary mastery—as subtle and specific as it is universally heartbreaking.” —The Independent (UK)
“Harrowing . . . Human Acts portrays people whose self-determination is under threat from terrifying external forces; it is a sobering meditation on what it means to be human.” —Financial Times (UK)
“A grim but heartfelt performance, touching on the possibility of forgiveness and the survival of the spirit.” —Sunday Times (UK)
“A harrowing journey . . . By its very existence Human Acts is an important and necessary book . . . astonishing.” —The National (UK)
“Human Acts is a stunning piece of work. The language is poetic, immediate, and brutal. Han Kang has again proved herself to be a deft artist of storytelling and imagery.” —Jess Richards (UK)
Winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, South Korean author Han Kang has been widely recognized for her English-language debut THE VEGETARIAN, which Hogarth published in February 2016 and which was named a best book of the year by outlets including The New York Times Book Review, NPR, the Economist, Slate, and BuzzFeed, to name a few.
Han now returns with her second novel, HUMAN ACTS (January 17, 2017, Hogarth), a “rare and astonishing” (The Observer) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice, with rights sold in more than ten countries. HUMAN ACTS, published in the UK earlier this year, was a London Evening Standard bestseller and has received rave reviews in The Guardian, The Independent, the Sunday Times, and more. Han, who was profiled in the New York Times at the release of THE VEGETARIAN, is a professor in the department of Creative Writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts. She was a participant in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and has also won the Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today’s Young Artist Award, the Korean Literature Novel Award, and the Manhae Literary Prize.
Partly based on true events, HUMAN ACTS revolves around a single catastrophic act in Korean history and the consequences that spiral in its aftermath: In the midst of the violent 1980 Gwangju Uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is killed. The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho’s best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho’s own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope evolves the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.
An award-winning bestseller in Korea, HUMAN ACTS is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns tracing the harsh reality of oppression and the resounding, extraordinary poetry of humanity.
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 Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today’s Young Artist Award, and the Manhae Literary Prize. She currently works as a professor in the department of creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.