As the latest contributor to the Future Library project, South Korean novelist Han Kang’s newest book will be buried in a Norwegian forest for nearly one hundred years. In the year 2114, the book—along with its ninety-nine fellows, one for each year since the project’s inception—will be unearthed and printed. The paper will be harvested from one hundred trees from the forest, which were planted in 2014, the project’s inaugural year. The project is a piece of public art conceived by artist Katie Paterson and executed by the Future Library Trust, of which Paterson is a member. The trustees are responsible for selecting the participating authors.
Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale and—most recently—Hag-Seed, was the first writer to contribute, burying her original work in 2014. She was followed by Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell, Sjón, Elif Shafak, and now Kang.
Kang’s first book to be translated into English, The Vegetarian, won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. The novel follows a housewife who makes a subversive decision in pursuit of a more “plant-like” existence, the building calamity of which reveals dark truths about the contemporary world’s relationship to violence and gender. Alexandra Alter of The New York Times describes the book as “Surreal. . . . [A] mesmerizing mix of sex and violence,” and writes of its protagonist, “Like a cursed madwoman in classical myth, Yeong-hye seems both eerily prophetic and increasingly unhinged.”
The White Book, Kang’s latest novel to receive an English translation, is a lyrical and disquieting exploration of personal grief, written through the prism of the color white. Shortlisted for the 2018 Man Book International Prize, The White Book’s nameless narrator wanders the twin white worlds of the blank page and snowy Warsaw during a writer’s retreat, drawn into meditation on the death of her older sister who died in her mother’s arms, a few hours old.
While no one will have the opportunity to read Kang’s Future Library contribution for nearly a hundred years, the wait for The White Book will thankfully not as long, with a U.S. publication date of March 19, 2019.
Click here to learn more about the Future Library project.
See below for more information on books by Han Kang.