Through Greek Lessons, International Booker Prize winner Han Kang reminds us once more why we fell in love with her in 2016 with The Vegetarian. In her newly translated novel, we are introduced to an Ancient Greek instructor with deteriorating eyesight and his student, who has lost the ability to speak. Translation exists everywhere in Greek Lessons—in the schism that the instructor's blindness creates between his spoken and written language, in the student's inability to transpose her ideas into words—and at times seems impossible to overcome. Still, through linguistic despair, the two characters find that fragmentation is always an act of creation, creating new pathways to understanding their worlds. In Greek Lessons, we are reminded why we still love to tell stories across the limitations of translation: because, as a fractured mirror can form a kaleidoscope, so too can restructured language create endless new windows to the world.
Publication Date 2023-04-18
Section New Hardcover - Fiction / All Staff Suggestions / Fiction Suggestions / Jasmine P.
A dazzling novel about the saving grace of language and human connection, from the “visionary” (New York Times Book Review) author of the International Booker Prize winner The Vegetarian
“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
"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.