My Semi-Fictional Life #122 (A Review of Han Kang’s HUMAN ACTS)

Hello peeps. Sorry I missed yesterday. Didn’t have a good back day. Here’s a review in place of yesterday’s post.


A Review of Human Acts

First and foremost, everyone who loves beautiful writing should read this book. That being said, results may vary. My idea of beautiful may not be your idea of beautiful. This book contains disturbing imagery described passionately. Kang finds beauty in even the ugliest places.

Human Acts is a breath of fresh air after Kang’s disappointing The Vegetarian. I give every author a second chance, no matter how much I despise the first story I read from them. Sometimes, it works out in my favor. This was one of those times.

This is the first mosaic novel I’ve enjoyed. Mainly because I never know, going in, that these novels are mosaics. Many of these books are marketed as novels, when, in fact, they are collections of connected short stories. If I go into a novel wanting a novel, I want a novel, not a short story collection. Nothing wrong with collections. I’ve published three myself, so far be it from me to knock the format. But I want to know if that’s what I’m reading. Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don’t.

The Vegetarian was also written in this mosaic style, with alternating POVs, with a different character in every chapter, so I’m assuming that is just this author’s style. Here we find everything from the rarely-well-done second-person POV to the little-used epistolary format to the commonly-used first-person perspective. I dug how Kang juggled the styles here. The switches didn’t feel near as jarring as they did in The Vegetarian, and I actually cared about the people in this book, whereas her last novel was plagued by an entire cast of unlikable assholes who were not given near enough time to develop. I’m all for stories about irredeemable folks, but give me a dog to care about, or something.

The book has one chapter in particular that resonated with me and it might have affected my rating by a star. Meaning, I’m giving this novel five stars based on one 30-page chapter. If the second part didn’t exist, this would be a solid four-star read. But “The Boy’s Friend” pushed this into perfect-territory for me. Although they might exist outside of this novel, I’ve never before read a sequence of events in such a way. I was awestruck by the delivery. Probably in my top ten best written chapters of all time.

In summation: Everybody has a bad day. Judging them solely based on one awful outing is short-sighted. I’m glad I gave Kang another chance. Human Acts was just what I was looking for at this moment in my life. All five stars are, without a doubt in my mind, deserved. Thanks to Crown Publishing for thus far providing me with two of this author’s works, free of charge, in return for unbiased reviews.

Final Judgment: Timely and poignant, especially in today’s political climate.

See you later tonight,


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