Human Acts

Human Acts by Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith)


In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.


You look around at the old man. You don’t ask him if this is his granddaughter. You wait, patiently, for him to speak when he’s ready. There will be no forgiveness. You look into his eyes, which are flinching from the sight laid out in front of them as though it is the most appalling thing in all this world. There will be no forgiveness. Least of all for me. 

My opinion is split when it comes to Human Acts. On the one hand the writing style is absolutely beautiful and I was in awe all the while reading it, on the other hand I struggled a lot to connect with this story.

The story this book tells is an important one. I hardly know anything about Korean history - frankly, I still hardly know anything about the events described - thus, this book seems like an important wake-up call or at least reminder of the fact that there is so much history I don't know about. But even though I tried to keep this in mind I found it really hard to immerse myself into the story.

Sadly, because I enjoyed this book superficially and couldn't connect with it when it comes to any feeling that goes deeper than an "oh, no", I have hardly anything to say about it. The writing is good, obviously, and I enjoyed the different perspectives and their, respective, quirks (in other words: the storytelling aspect). But that doesn't change the fact that I felt disconnected. To make matters worse, I don't even know what kept me held back while the story unfolded. There's nothing wrong about this book so, basically, this is all on me.

If I were presented the chance to recommend this book to someone, though, I would tell them to go for it and at least check it out. I'm sure that people who manage to be sucked into this story will fall for it head over heels. I just wasn't one of them

 I found out later that the army had been provided with eight hundred thousand rounds that day. This was at a time when the population of the city stood at four hundred thousand. In other words, they had been given the means to drive a bullet into the body of every person in the city twice over.


Well, what else can I say? 2.5 out of 5 stars.


Name: Human Acts
Original Name: 소년이 온다
Deutscher Titel: Menschenwerk
Author: Han Kang
Publisher: Hogarth
Pages: 242
Where?: Amazon (English edition), Amazon (deutsche Version)


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