- “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang
- Literary Fiction
- Read as a paperback through the Reading Glasses Postal Book Club.
- 4/5 stars
- Finished August 7, 2017
Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.
I was really nervous about this book, I’d heard that it was a bit of horror and if you haven’t noticed from my book reviews it isn’t something that I normally read. I had been avoiding it as much as possible, but I knew people were really in love with it, so I was also unsure if this was something I actually wanted to pick up. However, this book ended up being the very first book that was given to me in my Reading Glasses Postal Book Club so I decided to dive in and give it a chance since the purpose of a postal book club is to read things you wouldn’t normally read.
I used to listen to the “What Should I Read Next?” Podcast and Anne Bogel would often say that there was a writer (I’m not sure the name of the writer) who would say that they could tell something was a good book, it just wasn’t for them, and that’s what this book was for me. Maybe I’m just not smart enough to truly understand what was going on here, but it all just seemed so strange to me. I couldn’t figure out if this book was truly about being a Vegetarian, or if that was symbolic of something else. I’ve never done very good with figuring out symbolism, so I spent most of this book wondering if I was missing something.
This story is told in three parts, the first from Yeong-hye’s perspective as she decides to become a vegetarian. This becomes a very big deal, and she is not supported by her husband for her decision. I don’t want to spoil anything because this book really should be fully experienced, but it doesn’t go over well. The second part of the book is told from Yeong-hye’s brother in law, and then her sister. This book was short, and I really don’t think it is a horror book. It didn’t scare me, it was just strange. Like I said, I know this book is written well and is a good book and deserves the hype, it just wasn’t for me, and I think went over my head a little bit.
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