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Shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize.
From Booker Prize-winner and literary phenomenon Han Kang, a lyrical and disquieting exploration of personal grief, written through the prism of the color white.
While on a writer's residency, a nameless narrator wanders the twin white worlds of the blank page and snowy Warsaw. The White Book becomes a meditation on the color white, as well as a fictional journey inspired by an older sister who died in her mother's arms, a few hours old. The narrator grapples with the tragedy that has haunted her family, an event she colors in stark white - breast milk, swaddling bands, the baby's rice cake-colored skin - and, from here, visits all that glows in her memory: from a white dog to sugar cubes.
As the writer reckons with the enormity of her sister's death, Han Kang's trademark frank and chilling prose is softened by retrospection, introspection, and a deep sense of resilience and love. The White Book - ultimately a letter from Kang to her sister - offers powerful philosophy and personal psychology on the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit and our attempts to graft new life from the ashes of destruction.
“A brilliant psychogeography of grief, moving as it does between place, history and memory... Poised and never flinches from serene dignity... The White Book is a mysterious text, perhaps in part a secular prayer book... Translated peerlessly by Smith, [it] succeeds in reflecting Han's urgent desire to transcend pain with language.” (Guardian)
“Formally daring, emotionally devastating and deeply political.... In this subtle and searching novel, Kang, through Smith, proposes a model of genuine empathy, one that insists on the power of shared experience but it not predicated on the erasure of difference.” (Katie Kitamura, New York Times Book Review)
"Kang’s masterful voice is captivating and nothing short of brilliant." (Booklist, starred review)
"The White Book is a novel that's difficult to describe, but easy to love. It's a delicate book, hard to know, impossible to pin down, but it's filled with some of Han's best writing to date. And it's also one of the smartest reflections on what it means to remember those we've lost.” (Michael Schaub, NPR.org)