Post Script: The White Book – Han Kang

The White Book

The White Book

Han Kang

Translated by Deborah Smith

Allen & Unwin Australia

Portobello Books

ISBN: 9781846276293

 

Description:

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.

 

 

My View:

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).

 

Post Script: Me After You, A True Story About Love and Loss and Other Disasters – Lucie Brownlee

Honest, open and raw.

Me After You

Lucie Brownlee

Random House UK, Ebury Publishing

Virgin Books

ISBN: 9780753555835

 

Description:

‘He crashed on to the pillow next to me, heavy as a felled oak. I slapped His face and told Him to wake up.

Our daughter, B, appeared in the doorway, woken up by the screaming – I must have been screaming but I don’t remember – and she was crying and peering in. I told her the ultimate adult lie; that everything was all right.’

 

Sudden death is rude. It just wanders in and takes your husband without any warning; it doesn’t even have the decency to knock. At the impossibly young age of 37, as they were making love one night, Lucie Brownlee’s beloved husband Mark dropped dead.

As Lucie tried to make sense of her new life – the one she never thought she would be living – she turned to writing to express her grief.

 

My View:

  

I have been struggling with what I will write in this review – somebodies memories are what they are – memories and personal reflections. This is not a work of fiction where you can like or dislike the characters, or look for the plot twist or know it will all work out ok in the end. This is real. This life. And this is at times emotionally raw and blunt.

 

I picked up this book because I was looking for answers – I am not grieving but someone close to me is and it breaks my heart not being able to help them in their time of need. I discovered that grieving whether for a relationship that has been severed or a partner or relative that has died, no matter what reason…is difficult, traumatic, exhausting and so very personal. No one can feel the loss the way you feel the pain. No one can rally help you “get over” the severance of that cord that bound you together. You have to do that yourself and that takes time.

 

What I learned is that you can help by providing company, being a sounding board, checking in and seeing that everything is ok, giving hugs, providing the physical help – doing the dishes, hanging out the washing, making meals, reminding the grieving one that they are achieving, they have coped with organising/ dealing with all those mundane things that still need attention at this time; moving house, arranging/dealing with insurance companies, government departments, rental agencies, getting up each day and facing the next one…and by sharing that one day when you least expect it you will notice that life is just a little easier and the weight on your shoulders a little lighter.

 

This is a brave, at times blunt and open personal story of love and loss and the road to recovery.

 

 

 

 

My View: