Human Acts

Human Acts

A Novel

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
10
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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.
Publisher: New York : Hogarth, 2016
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781101906729
1101906723
9781524760175
9781101906736
Branch Call Number: FICTION Han
Description: 218 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Smith, Deborah 1987-

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m
mclarjh
May 13, 2018

Confusing characters and timeline. Not nearly as successful as "Vegetarians."

LPL_PolliK May 04, 2018

A stunning book, one you will read while holding your breath. Set in Korea during the Gwangju student uprising in 1980, this book captures an event and a political reality I knew nothing about, but now will never forget. Kang writes hauntingly about the uprising, the emotions, the killings, the torture - events that still resonate today - with sensitivity and truth. The story of 15-year-old Dong-ho and those connected to him will stay with you for a long time.

s
StarGladiator
Feb 17, 2018

// The souls of the departed are watching us. Their eyes are wide open. \\
Well chosen words to convey the unfolding scenes of grief and horror during the Gwangju Uprising, a precursor to democracy in South Korea.
Although a fictionalized account, the author, Han Kang, recipient of many literary awards and a poet, lived in Gwangju during that period and provides a powerful rendering of events, the emotional spectrum of heroic people sacrificing their lives for the greater good!

vm510 Jan 11, 2018

I don't mind the heavy subjects in Han Kang's books and I also learned a lot reading this book. I kept thinking throughout how easily the state - and the humans who carry out the state's violence - can torture, maim, and kill citizens. I kept thinking about the unending pain and sorrow people feel after experiencing violence (PTSD, dreams) or after losing someone close to them to state-sanctioned violence.
My qualms with this book have more to do with the different narrators, who go through wretched and horrible things, but who I rarely felt connected to. The Vegetarian also used multiple narrators, but unlike Human Acts, I felt way more connected to The Vegetarian's characters and compelled to finish without stopping. Many people enjoy Human Acts' message and storytelling better than The Vegetarian, though, so I might be alone in this.

Cynthia_N Jan 04, 2018

I can't say that I enjoyed reading this one but it was very powerful and moving.

g
garcia_0
Nov 05, 2017

“...it was only when we were shattered that we proved we had souls.” -Han Kang, Human Acts

“Why are we walking in the dark, let’s go over there, where the flowers are blooming. “ -Han Kang, Human Acts

“Please’ write your book so that no one will ever be able to desecrate my brother’s memory again. “ -Han Kang, Human Acts

A brilliant, masterful, poignant novel. It underscores the fact that oppressive regimes can destroy the lives of decent, hardworking people but not their soul. Essential reading today when the indolent POTUS can make flip remarks about destroying North Korea and killing thousands; and likely causing death and unimaginable suffering from collateral damage to South Koreans, Japanese, and others, including Americans.

Marlowe Apr 21, 2017

Han offers the reader a glimpse into the horrific acts of violence surrounding the 1980 Gwangju uprising in South Korea, and their aftermath. Through multiple perspectives, the reader learns of the totalitarian violence, the omnipresence of fear, and cult of memory, that arose. The stories are separate, but usually have a connection through characters, places, or events. It can occasionally be difficult to understand the narrator's voice. The author has a unique use of the pronoun "you." This is a beautiful and sad historical fiction, about a time and place in history I was unaware of.

c
cmlnetatshawdotca
Apr 08, 2017

I reserved and then waited for weeks for this book. However vs The vegetarian which I read only in 2-3 readings, I cannot finish this book and return this after 1 week. The background and the characters in this novel make it difficult to continue reading...

e
elizali
Mar 01, 2017

This book does well in conversation with The Vegetarian. Heartbreakingly sad and graphic, but to a point it is difficult to put down instead of too much to keep reading. Han Kang strikes the balance between displaying atrocity without being overbearing on the reader. Her epilogue really brought the story into perspective.

l
laphampeak
Feb 13, 2017

The historic 1980 student uprising in Gwangju, South Korea sets the place for Kang's story. The reader is taken deep into the tragedy and torture experienced by various individuals - The Boy, The Editor, The Boy's Friend, The Prisoner,......each a victim of the brutality. Varying time periods and narrative of the character's background gives the reader brief respite from the horrific nature of the events. Kangs writing style is compelling enough to continue reading despite the violence and grief.

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