The White Book
Translated by Deborah Smith
Allen & Unwin Australia
From the winner of the Man Booker International Prize for The Vegetarian
Writing while on a 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 – unfolds 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.
This is both the most autobiographical and the most experimental book to date from South Korean master Han Kang.
Experimental in presentation and design, economically written, no words wasted, emotions captured seemingly effortlessly, this is a stunning read, an emotional read.
Poignant beautiful prose – so personal, like reading someone else’s diary, someone who has a heart full of sadness (I hope that is not the reality, I hope that is just my imagination).