Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Review: Those Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin

Book (Story?) : The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. La Guin
Genre: Short story/literary fiction
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Here's another book (story) that I picked up thanks to BTS and all the tons of literary references that their videos and teasers and theories and concepts are always promoting and throwing at us.

This one made an appearance in their Spring Day video last year (wow it's been a year already?? ) and everyone went wild. Since I'm not all that into the crazy theories these guys love to wrap the fandom up in, I have no idea what the connection is thought to be between their video and this story. And I could look that up, but I know you all probably won't care either. (Oh, man I found this, so if you are interested, take a look!) So on to the story!!!

Yeah, basically this is a short story that I'm going to count as a book since it's in a nice hardback bound copy and looks very bookish!!

In the beginning we get a description of the town people and how they are all on their way to the race grounds where a horse race is about to happen as a celebration to the beginning of summer. It's a beautiful day and everything is pretty and perfect. And the people are happy. Oh so happy!

We then get a more detailed description of this town called Omelas. How the people are so good and happy that they don't need a king, or slaves, or clergy or soldiers or weapons. They had few rules and laws. And yet, we are told over and over, that they are not simple minded or naive. They are mature and intelligent.

Do you believe all this? we are asked. The narrator knows it's hard to accept. That people could actually live this way.

If not, he/she says, then how about one more thing.

And then we learn about the ugly secret. The bad bad thing kept in a closet. ( I will not tell you want that thing is because that would be spoiler-ish. You have to read it to find out!) The thing that everyone knows about but no one does anything about. That thing that without it, the happiness of the town would no longer be. The thing that people come to visit and are repulsed by, but still go about their joyous happy lives.

Except those who don't. Except those who walk away from Omelas.


Yeah. I have no idea what it means. But it feels like it could be pretty deep and symbolic. Most of the short stories I've read in my life have this sudden punch in the gut at the end, and this one is no different. It's beautiful and ugly at the same time. Omelas is not what it appears to be. There is something about Omelas that make some people want to leave, even if it's a blissful happy place. And what is the price for happiness anyway? And what would you do gain it and keep it?

This is the third thing I've read thanks to the BTS boys... what's up next? Not sure, but let me just say I've only begun to scratch the surface.


  1. Well color me intrigued! Now I want to know what this secret is!

  2. I think it's cool that BTS gets their fans to read every now and then. I'm not much of a short story fan. I wonder if I'd like this one. I don't know. Hmmm...

  3. Interesting. I've never read anything by Le Guin, but I've heard lots of good things about her.



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