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The White Book


SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE • A “formally daring, emotionally devastating, and deeply political” (The New York Times Book Review) exploration of personal grief through the prism of the color white, from the internationally bestselling author of The Vegetarian

“Stunningly beautiful writing . . . delicate and gorgeous . . . one of the smartest reflections on what it means to remember those we’ve lost.”—NPR
While on a writer’s residency, a nameless narrator focuses on the color white to creatively channel her inner pain. Through lyrical, interconnected stories, she grapples with the tragedy that has haunted her family, attempting to make sense of her older sister’s death using the color white. From trying to imagine her mother’s first time producing breast milk to watching the snow fall and meditating on the impermanence of life, she weaves a poignant, heartfelt story of the omnipresence of grief and the ways we perceive the world around us.
In captivating, starkly beautiful language, The White Book offers a multilayered exploration of color and its absence, of the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit, and of 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.”—The Guardian

“With eloquence and grace, Han breathes life into loss and fills the emptiness with this new work.”—Library Journal

“Everything I ever thought about the color white has been profoundly altered by reading Han Kang’s brilliant exploration of its meaning and the ways in which white shapes her world, from birth to death—including the death of The White Book’s narrator’s older sister, who died just a few hours after she was born, in her mother’s arms. This is an unforgettable meditation on grief and memory, resilience and acceptance, all offered up in Han’s luminous, intimate prose.”—Nylon

“Han’s first two English-language translations were instant sensations, establishing her as a riveting practitioner of the surreal and of historical fiction alike. Her latest . . . is told by a woman haunted by the death of her elder sister just after birth—a contemplation of life, death, resilience and, as the title hints, color.”—HuffPost

“[The White Book] promises to be equal parts Italo Calvino, Angela Carter, and something entirely Han Kang’s own. . . . A quieter, yet just as intensely symbolic, follow-up to the startling violence of her first two books.”—LitHub

“A quietly gripping contemplation on life, death, and the existential impact of those who have gone before.”—Eimear McBride, author of The Lesser Bohemians

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