Han Kang, trans. by Deborah Smith and Emily Yae Won
RaveThe Guardian (UK)An extraordinary and dense novel that offers up new depths on each reading. It is short – 160 pages – which means you can read and reread it in a day if you want to. I have a soft spot for short novels – their intensity, their skill in delivering something sharp and true in a few breaths – but the bias is irrelevant because it does what all good novels do: it invites the reader into a world that reaches well beyond the confines of its pages ... The original was published in Korean in 2011 and it’s a happy coincidence that what’s inevitably lost in translation – something always is – seems to underline the dissolution and transience of language (and lives) that Kang is exploring. In many ways, the language is poetic – metaphor is second nature to her; she manages to excavate ideas with very few words – and it’s not surprising to learn that Kang started out her publishing life as a poet ... Thank goodness Han Kang’s literary voice takes up space in the world in the way her female characters struggle to.