Award-winning Han Kang wants to write about books in her life

hankangHan Kang, the winner of the 2016 Man Booker International prize, said during a local book fair she would someday like to write about the books that guided her through her sometimes difficult life. “I think I might write a book about books someday. I have this wish to write the book after a few years,” the writer said in her special lecture on the first day of the five-day Seoul International Book Fair in southern Seoul on Wednesday.


The book would be about her memories of books that were formative and helpful to her, Han said in the lecture about the future of printed books. Books hold special meaning to any writer, but for Han, author of the 2016 Man Booker International-winning novel “The Vegetarian,” they have been lifesavers. “Even when I am not in a condition to read, I always carry at least one book. The act itself gives me a sense of relief … and I sometimes have a feeling that the moments we open a book, underline the part we want to re-read and take notes are in fact something that saves us (from the drudgery of living),” she said. “In times when I cannot read, I feel unwholesome and evil … but after reading enough, I feel recharged and the parts of me that have crumbled come back together,” she said of her special desire to read.


Han was resolutely positive about the future of printed books and literature. Despite the growing dominance of YouTube and electronic books as mediums for conveying information, printed books and novels will survive and take back their dominance, she predicted. “Some say a new era of augmented reality is approaching, but augmented reality (technology) cannot bring us into the inner mind or even into the soul of other people,” she said. “That kind of augmented reality in fact resides in books and literary works,” she said, adding, “In the end, printed books and literature will come back because literature is dealing with ever-changing human subjects like life, death, pain, love and grief.”


The 49-year-old writer is currently authoring the third and final part of a new trilogy with snow as its theme. She confessed that she is experiencing a major roadblock over the project. “It might be because I am struggling to write these days, but writing a novel is like going along a road that is very, very narrow — narrow like thread,” she said. “But you have to find the very narrow path. If you fall off the path even very slightly, (the novel) is no longer truthful and becomes mundane,” she said. “So I am struggling to write, telling myself that there is indeed a very narrow path, and I have yet to find it.” Han recently contributed a new novel, “Dear Son, My Beloved,” to the Norwegian public arts project “Future Library” as the fifth writer to do so after authors that include David Mitchell and Margaret Atwood. The novel by Han and 99 other renowned authors will be compiled, kept in secret and published a century late on paper made from the trees of a special forest cultivated for the project.


By Park Boram


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