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
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2023: The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Irish Times, i-D Magazine, Lit Hub
"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.
Han Kang was born in 1970 in South Korea. A recipient of the Yi Sang Literary Award, the Today's Young Artist Award, and the Manhae Prize for Literature, she is the author of The Vegetarian, winner of the International Booker Prize, Human Acts, and The White Book.
Deborah Smith was a co-winner of the International Booker Prize for her translation of The Vegetarian. Emily Yae Won is a translator based in Seoul. She has translated into Korean the work of Ali Smith and Deborah Levy.
“An incredible meditation on one woman’s abdication of language after she can no longer tolerate a world where violence is rooted even in speech.”—Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings
“Sinuous and sublime . . . 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
“A love letter to language, learning, and the hope of connection. 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
“Quiet, sharply faceted, and devastating . . . On page after page, [Kang] 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)
“Booker winner Kang [explores] the borders of the senses in this delicate love story. . . . This brilliant, shimmering work is never at a loss for words even when exploring the mind of a woman who won’t speak, and its pursuit of an authentic, exquisite new form is profound. Once again, Kang demonstrates great visionary power.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Man Booker International Prize–winning Han Kang has built an enviable career providing exquisite, intimate space for damaged, lost souls. . . . Han’s newest import remains empathically timeless, a potential-love-story-in-progress that is another intimate, lingering meditation on identity and autonomy. . . . [A] haunting exploration of tentative possibilities and yearned-for connections.”—Booklist (starred review)