by Han Kang
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Pub Date 18 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2023
“Both a disquieting journey about the loss of sense and a return to the sensorium of touch and intimacy, Greek Lessons soars with sensuous and revelatory insight.”—Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, Time, Chicago Public Library, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal
"Now and then, language would thrust its way into her sleep like a skewer through meat, startling her awake several times a night."
In a classroom in Seoul, a young woman watches her Greek language teacher at the blackboard. She tries to speak but has lost her voice. Her teacher finds himself drawn to the silent woman, for day by day he is losing his sight.
Soon the two discover a deeper pain binds them together. For her, in the space of just a few months, she has lost both her mother and the custody battle for her nine-year-old son. For him, it's the pain of growing up between Korea and Germany, being torn between two cultures and languages, and the fear of losing his independence.
Greek Lessons tells the story of two ordinary people brought together at a moment of private anguish—the fading light of a man losing his vision meeting the silence of a woman who has lost her language. Yet these are the very things that draw them to each other. Slowly the two discover a profound sense of unity—their voices intersecting with startling beauty, as they move from darkness to light, from silence to breath and expression.
Greek Lessons is the story of the unlikely bond between this pair and a tender love letter to human intimacy and connection—a novel to awaken the senses, one that vividly conjures the essence of what it means to be alive.
“Another stunning gem: quiet, sharply faceted, and devastating. … On page after page, she describes ever so meticulously the ways we are cut off from the world even as we yearn for it…. A stunning exploration of language, memory, and beauty from an internationally renowned writer.”
—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review
"Sinuous and sublime, Greek Lessons is an extraordinary meditation on language, violence, loss and intimacy. Han Kang is a writer like no other. In a few lines, she seems to traverse the entirety of human experience."
—Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies
“Han Kang’s Greek Lessons is an incredible meditation on one woman’s abdication of language after she can no longer tolerate a world where violence is even rooted in speech. Both a disquieting journey about the loss of sense and a return to the sensorium of touch and intimacy, Greek Lessons soars with sensuous and revelatory insight.”
—Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings
“A love letter to language, learning, and the hope of connection. This novel is as cerebral as Socrates and as visceral as a blister about to pop. It is about the mind and the body, our thoughts and our senses—about what it means to be a person in the world.”
—Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth
"Reading a Han Kang book is a pleasure like no other. Both poetic and deeply philosophical, Greek Lessons is a beautiful, haunting story about the fragility and power of human connection. I can’t stop thinking about it, and I don’t want to."
—Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek and Happiness Falls