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Han Kang finishes the Snow trilogy in three years

Posted December. 11, 2019 07:32,   

Updated December. 11, 2019 07:32


Han Kang, 49, spoke several times about the difficulties she was having, trying to finish writing a novel last year. At the time, she was working on the last book of her “Snow” trilogy that includes “Human Acts” and “The White Book.” The book that gave her such a hard time is finally out in the world with the first half of the new novel entitled “No Goodbye” being featured in the latest winter issue of the quarterly Literature and Society.

The book follows novelist “K” who seems to be based on Han herself. After publishing a book about a genocide in 2014, K started having nightmares where she desperately runs away from dark heavy waves that are smashing thousands of logs that look like tombs, feeling helpless about not being able to save them.

Four years later, she learns about the Jeju Uprising from her friend, Inseon, which makes her think that her dream might be prophetic. One day, Inseon hurts her finger and asks K to take care of her bird. On her way to the Jeju island, K recalls a story about Inseon’s mother that Inseon told her.

“(My Mother) never mentioned how the little sisters found the bodies of their family and had a funeral nor what determination or luck was required to survive afterwards. She only talked about the snow.”

The novel elaborates on the emotional pain that writing a novel has inflicted on K. Trying to deal with it all alone, she gets stomach cramps and headaches, which reminds readers of the writer herself when she was writing “Human Acts”. Just like K, Han used to write for monthly magazine “Samtoh.” Meanwhile, “Human Acts” deals with the Gwangju Uprising.

The new novel, which took three years for the author to write, has been divided into two, and the second half will be featured next year. “The book was originally a medium-length novel but ended up being a full-length one. You will be able to find the trilogy in bookshops in about next six months,” said Lee Sang-sul of Literature and Society.

Seol Lee snow@donga.com