The White Book – by Han Kang

The White Book is Han Kang’s autofiction written during the time she spent in Warsaw (Poland) and Norwich (UK) on the UNESCO writer’s residency.

The book tells the story of her mother’s first born daughter who died a few hours after being born, and how this premature death gloomed over her life. The story was not told thru a traditional plot line but via short paragraphs or poems, reflecting Han’s meditation on a list of white objects: swaddling bands, newborn gown, salt, sleet, rime, light, fog, “laughing whitely”, etc.

Throughout these vignettes we can see Han’s sense of the impermanence and the fragility of life. As well as the contrast beauty of black and white, light and darkness, and life and death.

The White Book reminded me of Bluets by Maggie Nelson which is a meditation on the color blue. But Bluets does not move me and makes me feel like The White Book.

Han is such a talented young writer. Her writing is creative and exquisite. I was blown away with The White Book.


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