Han Kang, the author of the 2016 Man Booker Prize-winning The Vegetarian, has written a new novel, The White Book, which explores life and death through the lens of a single color—white.
The White Book follows an unnamed narrator as she looks upon her own life and its meaning through the prism of “white.” In the beginning, she lists all the things in her life which are white –a blank sheet of paper, a newborn’s gown, rice, salt, snow etc., hoping that the list will transform her emotional state into a calm and serene state that resembles the color white.
The narrative of The White Book is written in the form of vignettes, each filled with melancholy and grief. The chapters are meant to be short. Kang has structured each chapter so that the reader is confronted with the bold blankness of each page’s white space. By emphasizing the color white, Kang is consciously accentuating all the colors of the visual spectrum, providing the reader with the novel’s vivid and rich meditation on the interconnectedness of all living things.
The White Book is as much about what is unsaid as it is about what is said. It examines our understanding of our place in the world, our life experiences, and our dealings with loss. Kang elucidates the complexity of our being and how our existence is anything but the simplicity of the color white.