by Han Kang
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Hardback: 192 pages
Before my wife turned vegetarian, I'd always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.
A beautiful, unsettling novel about rebellion and taboo, violence and eroticism, and the twisting metamorphosis of a soul
Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself.
Celebrated by critics around the world, The Vegetarian is a darkly allegorical, Kafka-esque tale of power, obsession, and one woman’s struggle to break free from the violence both without and within her.
I found this to be a surreal read with some colorful artsy scenes and stark medical depicted images.
Themes of body image, oppression of women, dreams and freedom run throughout.
One of those books where I am not quite sure I like it but agree that it is written well.
* part of Tournament of Books 2017 (here)
* part of Korean Book Challenge (here)
* part of Book Passage Literary Prize Book Group (here)
WINNER of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Publisher's Weekly • Buzzfeed • Entertainment Weekly • Time • Wall Street Journal • Bustle • Elle • The Economist • Slate • The Huffington Post • The St. Louis Dispatch • Electric Literature