My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Is it true that human beings are fundamentally cruel? Is the experience of cruelty the only thing we share as a species? Is the dignity that we cling to nothing but self-delusion, masking from ourselves the single truth: that each one of us is capable of being reduced to an insect, a ravening beast, a lump of meat? To be degraded, slaughtered - is this the essential of humankind, one which history has confirmed as inevitable?”
One of the most intense books that I have ever read!
This book... oh man, it educated me, challenged me, and made me look at history through a different lens. Rethink humanity in ways that I hadn't thought about before. What a powerful unforgettable telling of history. The author focused on portraying the reality of oppression in an almost poetic tone. It's hard to put into words, how much of an impact this book can have on people's life. Suffice it to say, go read it!
When I read this quote^, it seemed to summarize the message of this book: that cruelty is inevitable and a part of humankind. Here we follow six povs, exploring the effects and repercussions of the Gwangju Uprising of 1980, and how that had an effect throughout the years. At the center of this novel, is a touching story about Dong-ho's tragic end. If I'm completely honest, I knew nothing about South Korean history, because in the time period that this was set, I wasn't even born yet, nor did anyone teach me this.
Not all the POVs were as interesting as I would have liked them to be. For example, the one with the publishing editor I found to be quite boring because I didn't feel like it had a lot to contribute to the overall story. While the one with Dong-ho's best friend was a fascinating concept, and one of my favorite parts of the book as a whole.
My only negative with this book, was that at some parts I was so completely confused as to where the connection was in the multiple story lines. I know that it wasn't supposed to feel this way, but I thought that the vignettes read as short stories to me, and because this took me a couple of days to finish; I felt quite disoriented. But you know what, this book isn't meant to be read in one sitting, y'know? It's brutal and heartbreaking and gut-wrenching, and sometimes things got a little bit too violently graphic for me personally.
Want to give credit to the amazing Deborah Smith who translated this work so beautifully. I really believe that this book will go on to win awards, and all deservedly so.
**Thanks to NetGalley and BloggingForBooks for publishing me a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinion are my own.**
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