As the story develops, the narrator’s incantatory invocation of white objects—salt, snow, moon, ice, rice, waves, white hair, a white dog—gradually envelops the reader like the creeping Warsaw fog that slowly rubs away the borders between sky and earth ... With its blend of fiction, non-fiction, and autobiography, non-linear narrative, and juxtaposition of text and photographic images, The White Book reveals Kang to be an innovative author committed to formal experimentation ... Intensely personal, hypnotically serene, and mournfully meditative, Kang’s thanatopsis reminds readers of the revivifying power of memory and the extent to which we are uniquely endowed within the natural world to withstand the vagaries of forgetfulness and life’s nagging ephemerality.
An astonishingly rendered work of fiction, as much a meditation as a narrative ... Precise, subversive, fierce and deceptively opaque ... There is a heaviness in these pages, teamed with wonder; a fragile coexistence from sentence to sentence ... is not without hope. In its own way the novel is a sublime expression of grief’s incongruous byways, its busy inactivity, its larger, more elaborate intrusions.
Through these beautifully crafted snapshots, Kang uses language to attempt to transcend the different stages of grief and pain. She explores the dichotomies of black and white, life and death, and the pristine and tragic symbolism that runs between them. Kang’s masterful voice is captivating and nothing short of brilliant.