Greek Lessons: A Novel
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • 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 TIME’S BEST BOOKS OF 2023 (SO FAR)
"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.
Praise for Greek Lessons: A Novel
“In Greek Lessons, Kang reaches beyond the usual senses to translate the unspeakable.”—Los Angeles Times
“Hypnotic . . . Kang is one of the most unconventional, perceptive and truly innovative writers publishing today.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Cerebral and sensuous . . . I was so stirred I had to step away every few chapters only to return a day or two later, as though pulled by a magnet . . . I was left in awe.”—The Boston Globe
“[Kang] is an astute chronicler of unusual, insubordinate women. . . [Greek Lessons is] for readers drawn to considering language itself as a source of self-revelation . . . a celebration of the ineffable trust to be found in sharing language.”—The New York Times
“Stirring . . . quietly beautiful.”—Time
“A woman’s extreme protest against the horrors of the human condition . . . touching [and] sympathetic.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A quiet, lovely meditation on language and disability . . . a story of the quiet violence of grief, the gaps language can and cannot bridge, and the necessity of communication and connection.”—Buzzfeed
“Evocative and elliptical.”—The Washington Post
“Suffused with crackling sensory imagery that emphasizes our ties to the world.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“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
“Breathtaking . . . Kang is always the most revelatory writer: she widens the sky of feeling. She is simply my favorite living writer to read, and think with, and see the world with.”—Max Porter, author of Grief Is The Thing With Feathers
“Quiet, sharply faceted, and devastating . . . A stunning exploration of language, memory, and beauty from an internationally renowned writer.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Brilliant, shimmering . . . Once again, Kang demonstrates great visionary power.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] haunting exploration of tentative possibilities and yearned-for connections.”—Booklist (starred review)