Han Kang’s new novel, of mourning in a destroyed city


The White Book. By Han Kang. Translated by Deborah Smith. Portobello Books; 128 pages; £10. To be published in America by Hogarth in 2019.

A WOMAN wanders through the snowbound streets of a European city that, in the second world war, suffered such wholesale obliteration that “the white glow of stone ruins” stretched “as far as the eye could see”. During this spell of exile, she recalls the sibling she never met: her mother’s first child, who died “less than two hours into life”. The baby girl had “a face as white as a crescent-moon rice cake”.

From these dual dimensions of grief and memory, one personal and one historical, Han Kang, a South Korean writer, has fashioned a winter book made up of beautiful, tantalising fragments. Its snow-crystals of prose settle into an eerily moving sequence of meditations on destruction, bereavement and rebirth. Amid images of ice and ashes, rice and salt, cloud and moon, the “white things” that signify mourning in Korean and…Continue reading

Powered by WPeMatico

Visualising the careers of musicians-turned-actors

THE news of Harry Styles’s casting in “Dunkirk” (2017) was met with bemusement. It was hard to imagine the boyband heartthrob, with his Mick Jagger-esque locks and floral suits, under siege on the beaches of northern France (rather than under siege from hordes of teenage girls). Did a short comic …

Britain could become basketball’s latest global outpost

FOR ONE night a year the O2 Arena, London’s biggest indoor stadium, belongs to basketball. On January 11th the 20,000-seat venue hosted its eighth regular-season fixture since 2011, between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers, the former of whom are genuine championship contenders this season in the National Basketball …

Is art-connoisseur yet another job threatened by technology?

THE patient is carefully positioned on a pristine rectangular table. A signal is given, and from behind a glass wall, a technician directs an X-ray machine overhead. Zapping begins. This is not a hospital. It is the conservation laboratory of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Visits here were part of the …