Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2018
‘Memory is complicated, but the colour white is not, and Kang’s painful, exquisite story… is a philosophical lament for all the shades of life in between.’ – The Irish Times
Kang now returns with The White Book, a gossamer-delicate meditation on mortality and meaning. The death of the author’s own baby sister – who passed only two hours after her birth – provides the gravitational centre to a volume that similarly focuses on the white, the iconography of mourning and remembrance.
Throughout, the identity of the narrator remains unknown: this is not a book of identities but, as the Guardian puts it, ‘a brilliant psychogeography of grief… The White Book is a mysterious text, perhaps in part a secular prayer book.’
Written in spare, tender sections, we discover the sparse intimacies of the narrator’s life; chapters vary from slivers of verse to self-contained gasps of narrative. The whole is deeply evocative, gilded as ever by Deborah Smith’s sensitive translation. In her third collaboration with the author (the second being the extraordinary Human Acts), Smith is less translator than essential interlocutor to Kang’s craft.
Publisher: Granta Books
Number of pages: 128
Weight: 250 g
Dimensions: 198 x 130 x 15 mm
‘Translated seamlessly by Smith, The White Book succeeds in reflecting Han’s urgent desire to transcend pain with language.’ – The Guardian
‘Kang is not interested in sentimentality, but is committed to depth; to expanding our view of the world and the people and things within it, in pristine detail.’ – The Irish Times
‘The White Book is a shimmering, evocative work. Smith’s peerless translation captures every last tiny nuance, the resultant prose so beautiful and affecting that it stops you in your tracks.’ – The National