Greek Lessons

Han Kang (tr. Deborah Smith and Emily Yae Won)
Hamish Hamilton

Greek Lessons is the story of two people reconciling with loss, both physical and emotional. One is a young woman who, for the second time in her life, is slowly and inexplicably losing her voice. The other is her professor of Greek language, who is trying to disguise his fading eyesight.

Beautifully written, this slender book offers a quiet yet haunting narrative. The voices of the characters appear almost groundless at first, gently submerging the reader in two fascinating viewpoints that begin to take shape on the page as the story progresses. The narrative flows between past and present, second person and third, until the characters encounter each other and can start making sense of their grief.

I particularly enjoyed the book’s meditation on language and our individual relation to it, and how it connects us to each other not only in metaphorical but also quite tangible ways. Readers who enjoyed Kang’s The White Book cannot miss this one!

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