The Vegetarian by Han Kang

tumblr_n6hno2qIxr1sfxmouo1_500The Vegetarian

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My ratings: 5/5 stars

Genre: Contemporary, Literary Fiction

188 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by Hogarth


About this Book:

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.

My Review:

Among all the books that I read during my binge reading vacations, The Vegetarian was definitely one of the most incredible, dark and memorable books.That is why I did not write a review straight after reading it and waited till my feeling had calmed down a little, so I could properly analyse, why this book became one of my favourites.
This Vegetarian is told in three parts.
First narration is by Yeong Hye’s Husband who is basically a living shell. He works, eats, sleeps, is satisfies with a wife who acts ‘normal’, though he knows nothing about her and has no interest to do so either. Then those chapters are broken by the little point of views by Yeong Hye as she turns Vegetarian after a nightmare. Vegan to be specific.
Maybe that nightmare just brought back memories of her childhood when her father used to beat her for disobedience and that act of violence got merged together making her loathe the act of eating meat or killing animals. I saw this act as more of a rebellion of how the society wanted her to be and what she didn’t feel that she could be anymore.
At one point when her husband rapes her, I lost it. I was so angry, at him, at her father, at everyone who kept forcing her till she tried to take her own life. I understood her. Society has a way of forcing its norms on you and it doesn’t look kindly upon you if you disagree. That much peer pressure that one has to face is just unbearable at times.
Then came the second Narration. Yeong Hye’s sister’s husband who is more of a narcissist and lost in his own art has an idea stuck in his mind for the perfect creation. He will go to every length to just achieve that without caring who he hurts in the process. That kind of obsession and fixation till it turned him insane, it was incredible to read about.
Then there’s the last narration. Yeong Hye’s sister, the only sane, compassionate, understanding and good character that I found in the whole book. And that is why she suffered so much pain. To not be able to understand her sister’s condition and still try to help her, commendable. I struggled with her to understand what could make a person drive so much into the insanity that they start thinking of themselves as a tree.
Amidst such exquisite writing, the author conveyed so much. The mental illnesses and the social deprivation that triggered such madness. This string of poignant storyline and delusional characters just amazed me.

“The feeling that she had never really lived in this world caught her by surprise. It was a fact. She had never lived. Even as a child, as far back as she could remember, she had done nothing but endure.”

 

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