Monday, March 7, 2016

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The VegetarianBefore 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.

This is a book that is brutal and difficult to put down once you start. The stark writing style emphasizes the cruelty that fills the pages, making every page really hit the reader squarely in the stomach with its gut-wrenching prose.

The main character is not someone we get too know very well. We see everything she does through the eyes of the people around her, who are all unreliable narrators. The only times we get an inkling into what she is thinking is when we read her dream sequences, which are full of poetic violence.

If you are looking for a story that will linger within you for a long time after you finish, this is the one to choose.