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The White Book Cover

Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Granta Publications
ISBN-13: 9781846276293
Price: $$16.50

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The White Book

Both the most autobiographical and the most experimental book to date from South Korean master Han Kang. Written while on a writer's residency in Warsaw, a city palpably scarred by the violence of the past, the narrator finds herself haunted by the story of her older sister, who died a mere two hours after birth. A fragmented exploration of white things - the swaddling bands that were also her shroud, the breast milk she did not live to drink, the blank page on which the narrator herself attempts to reconstruct the story - unfold in a powerfully poetic distillation. As she walks the unfamiliar, snow-streaked streets, lined by buildings formerly obliterated in the Second World War, their identities blur and overlap as the narrator wonders, 'Can I give this life to you?'. The White Book is a book like no other. It is a meditation on a colour, on the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit, and our attempts to graft new life from the ashes of destruction.

(photographs in print edition only)

“An astonishingly rendered work of fiction . . . Precise, subversive, fierce and deceptively opaque... A sublime expression of grief's incongruous byways, its busy inactivity, its larger, more elaborate intrusions.”—Financial Times

Author Bio

Han Kang was born in Gwangju, South Korea, and moved to Seoul at the age of ten. She studied Korean literature at Yonsei University. Her writing has won the Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today's Young Artist Award, and the Korean Literature Novel Award. The Vegetarian, her first novel to be translated into English, was published by Portobello Books in 2015 and won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. She is also the author of Human Acts (Portobello, 2016) and The White Book (Portobello, 2017). She is based in Seoul.

Deborah Smith's translations from the Korean include two novels by Han Kang, The Vegetarian and Human Acts, and two by Bae Suah, A Greater Music and Recitation. In 2015 Deborah completed a PhD at SOAS on contemporary Korean literature and founded Tilted Axis Press. In 2016 she won the Arts Foundation Award for Literary Translation. She tweets as @londonkoreanist.