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Human Acts: A Novel by Kang Han
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Human Acts: A Novel (2014)

by Kang Han

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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58216025,191 (4.22)164

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English (164)  Catalan (1)  All languages (165)
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
"Summer nights, washing my neck and back in the yard. The rope of cold water you pumped into the metal pail, scattering into brilliant jewels as you splashed it over my sweat-gummed skin. Remember how you laughed, watching me shudder and oooh."

Now imagine that caliber of prose being applied to torture, grief, suffering, and the permanent disfigurement of the human soul which only the darkest trauma can render.

To have captured the beauty and horror of humanity so elegantly is impressive; to have done so both succinctly and gracefully in a mere 200 pages is astonishing. I am in awe of this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Mar 15, 2019 |
Dieses Buch ist brutal in seiner Ehrlichkeit die Gefühle der verschiedenen Protagonisten aufzuzeigen; jedes Kapitel wird aus der Sicht einer anderen Person erzählt. Alle gehen anders mit den Ereignissen und der daraus resultierenden Trauer um.

Mein erstes Buch dieser Autorin und sicher nicht das letzte. ( )
  JulesGDSide | Nov 29, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Oh, this book.

Review to come. ( )
  lamotamant | Nov 21, 2018 |
I read [b:The Vegetarian|25489025|The Vegetarian|Han Kang|http://images.gr-assets.com/books/1478196580s/25489025.jpg|18449744] last year and was thoroughly disturbed by that book, so when I saw Human Acts at the library, I immediately snatched it up. Plus, there's a magpie on the cover!

This book is about the 1980 Gwangju Uprising in South Korea, which I had never heard of (thank God for Wikipedia). The chapters are (loosely) tied together by the story of a boy who was killed by a soldier in the street and the story of that boy's friend, who volunteered in a makeshift morgue after the death of his friend. The images are horrifying: piles of corpses, schoolgirls covered in blood and being dragged by their hair, the ever-present stench of dead bodies. But, somehow, the narrative is so passive that I couldn't connect to the story at all. I was honestly more moved by the horror of the Uprising when I read the Wikipedia page.

I can't help but compare this book to The Vegetarian, which was so disturbing that I couldn't put it down. Human Acts is nothing like that, to the point where it doesn't feel like it was written by the same author. Maybe the translator was different? I realize that I am in the minority here, as this book has fantastic reviews, but I just couldn't get into this one. Normally I could finish a 200-page book in one sitting, but it took me weeks to finish this book because I just couldn't connect to it. So, now I feel guilty not only for being an ignorant American who has never heard of the Gwangju Uprising, but also for not appreciating this book. I was leaning toward two stars, but the guilt is making me round up to another star. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
I'm a little different reviewer of this book, because I lived in Gwangju (and had lived there 15 years before and five years after) at the time of the Gwangju Sateh ("Incident" that is now referred as the Korean Democratization Movement), the bloody attack on the city of then 800,000 by a renegade general Chun Doo-Hwan who was determined to incite student riots, characterized as Communist (false) in order to brutally put them down and present himself to South Korea as their savior and be "elected" President - all of which he did. Human Acts is the only novel I've read about the Kwangju Sateh and its aftermath and it is a very significant book to me. It is not the book I would want written about the events of May 18, 1980 and their significance - it tells the darkest and saddest and most violent stories just from the viewpoints of one 15 year old student's experiences and those of his family, friends, and those who worked collecting and cleaning the broken bodies of the murdered people of Kwangju. But I can testify that it all, all is true, the truest of true, story of what happened, and how it was experienced by the people of Kwangju. I'll want to keep this slim, but powerful book. It is indeed hard to read, filled with suffering . My youngest grandson, Charlie, is 15, the age of Dong-Ho, the center of this book - and yes, children and teenagers as well as young adults and some in every other age group died in the Sateh - I saw, and even knew some of them, and my husband photographed many of the bodies. I attended the first 27 burials, one of which may have been Dong-Ho's, where several children and mostly high school and college students were laid to rest. I was translating for a German reporter who is the subject of the popular movie, Taxi Driver , which is a very true representation of Kwangju at the beginning of the attacks.. The author of Human Acts, Han Kang, was 9 years old in May, 1980, the same age as my youngest daughter, Charlie's mother, who was with us during the tumultuous 10 days of the uprising, and the 15 months following. The book tells the darkest and saddest stories of the Sateh., yes...but...true, so true! It is a tribute to the students and people of Gwangju, their courage, faithfulness, and sacrifice, their sorrow, their strength, their memories and to the May Mothers of Kwangju, and a tribute to life, broken and interrupted, which does go on. One comment I need to make here as it is mentioned in some of the reviews is on the number of people killed during the Sateh - there are 800+ bodies buried now in the memorial cemetery in Gwangju and most of us believe that between 1,000 and 1,600 were actually murdered, as many families buried their dead privately. I would guess twice that many were seriously - I mean amputations, loss of mind, blinded, etc - wounded and thousands, maybe tens of thousands were imprisoned, many being tortured. Since my husband worked in a hospital and we both worked primarily with students as teachers and young adults, we had a lot of follow up with victims who survived. ( )
  MarthaHuntley | Oct 11, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
Human Acts is an easy book to admire but not an easy one to read.
 
The result is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s also brutally honest, graphic in its depiction of death and torture (waterboarding, a wooden ruler shoved into a character’s vagina, you name it), and unrelentingly bleak.
 
Human Acts grapples with the fallout of a massacre and questions what humans are willing to die for and in turn what they must live through. Kang approaches these difficult and inexorable queries with originality and fearlessness, making Human Acts a must-read for 2017.
 
But Han Kang has an ambition as large as Milton's struggle with God: She wants to reconcile the ways of humanity to itself.
 
Kang’s masterful pacing and extraordinary attentiveness allow her to recount the gruesome history of the Gwangju Uprising while returning — always returning — to nuanced scenes of kindness and love, which pour light upon an otherwise desolate backdrop.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Han, KangAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, DeborahTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, DeborahIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Looks like rain," you mutter to yourself.
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I never let myself forget that every single person I meet is a member of this human race.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Follows the aftermath of a young boy's shocking death during a violent student uprising as told from the perspectives of the event's victims and their loved ones. When a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed in the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. Through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope unfolds the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.… (more)

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