Greek Lesson by Han Kang #bookreview

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 they discover a deeper pain binds them. 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.

Greek Lessons is a tender love letter to human connection, a novel to awaken the senses, vividly conjuring the essence of what it means to be alive.

My thoughts on Greek Lessons

I feel like I should forewarn people – I am about to gush about this book and this author….

I loved the previous two books I have read by Han Kang (The Vegetarian and Human Acts) so I jumped at the chance to read Greek Lessons. There is always a risk, though, when reading a book you have high expectations of that it will let you down. I am very, very, pleased to report that this was not the case with Greek Lessons, which I found to be beautifully written, wonderfully translated, and a true joy to read.

Why did I like it so much? Han Kang paints pictures of people who are not that pretty, or powerful, or purposeful. Often they are lost, unsure about their place in the world they are living in, a world which seems to have rejected them. Set in Korea, with its strict social rules, it must be suffocating to feel like this.

You can feel that suffocation, the weight on their shoulders. It makes the books compelling. I felt completely absorbed into Greek Lessons and the very small world of two people who find a way to help each other at a time they need it most. Will it be enough? Will it lead to a happy ever after? We are left not knowing, filling in the blanks of the future.

Which is another reason I enjoyed Greek Lessons. So many books I read tie everything up in a neat bow at the end, or lay everything out so there is no real room for interpretation- you can clearly see what the author wants to say. This is not the case here. It made me think. And left me thinking.

Which means I am left thinking about the book for days afterwards – years in the case of The Vegetarian. It is a wonderful feeling and a great credit to an author to make a reader feel that way.

Five stars.


Please note: I received this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings, and opinions are my own.


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