“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?” – Han Kang, Human Acts
Let’s discuss books that broke your heart. I do love a good heartbreaker of a book once in a while as those books really impact you and linger long after it’s been read. There are many that I could think of that fit this, but I decided to feature ones that present the extremes of both cruelty and love, that we, as a species, are capable of expressing. These books might be imperfect but they sure leave a strong residue of the human capacity of sheer vileness on the one hand and unconditional sacrifice on the other.
Dispatches from Syria by Janine Di Giovanni is journalistic non-fiction and is an eye opening read on Syria’s tumultuous history and is a reminder of the senseless violence that has torn the country apart. Human Acts has a similar tone, but is a fictionalised account of the Guangzhou student uprising in South Korea. The Bluest Eye presents the fundamental evil of racism under a veil of innocence from the eyes of a young black girl. Tin Man, the most ‘positive’ of the lot, wraps you up in all the different complexities of love, platonic and romantic, tugs at your heartstrings and reaffirms your faith in the beauty of forgiveness and sacrifice.
Most of these left me feeling rather discomfited and aren’t flawless, but are definitely worth a read. Grab a tissue and tell me about books that got you all choked up?