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The color of mourning

Posted October. 09, 2019 07:37,   

Updated October. 09, 2019 07:37


Everyone is prone to being hurt. However, artists are left deeply scarred just as Han Kang, who wrote “The White Book.” Technically speaking, the scars described in “The White Book” are those left with her mother, not with the author given that her elder sister died just two hours after she was born. When it happened, the author did not exist at all. It was not until her mother told her this sorrowful story that it turned into the scars in her heart. She was repeatedly told that her mother kept begging the poor little baby to stay fine with her while looking into the baby’s black eyes after giving birth unattended. That was when her mother’s pains and sorrow sat with the author. In her mother’s words, the baby had a face as white as round-shaped rice cake. The title of her novel drew its inspiration from the adjective that his mother used to describe her dead baby. As such, the palely white color represents scars, agony and mourning.

When Han Kang stayed in Warsaw, Poland, she read a real story hard to believe, which describes a Jewish boy being adopted by a Belgian family. It was something of a mystery for him to often hear an unrecognizable voice of a child. When he turned 18, the boy learned that he had an elder brother who died at six at a Jewish ghetto in Warsaw. After then, he started to learn Polish to get a grasp on the child’s voice. He later found that it was words by his dead brother who was freaking scared right before being captured by Nazi forces.

The story of the young Jewish boy reminded Han Kang of her dead sister. Would the soul of the dead sister have come to make her voice heard just as the dead brother of the Jewish boy did? If so, it is curious in what way she had communicated with the author considering that she died two hours after she was born. The winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize hoped to listen to the dead soul and let it speak, which resulted in “The White Book.” It must be Han's own way to express her condolences to testify the nature and ethics of mourning.