Title : The Vegetarian
Author : Han Kang
ISBN : 9780553448184
Publisher : Random House
Genre : Contemporary
Pages : 188
Source : Self
Rating : 5 stars
“The Vegetarian” is the most WEIRD piece of fiction I have read so far. It is dark, off stream and vividly disgusting still it has something which made me turn pages after pages and literally threw me into a chasm of imagination where I couldn’t help myself from imagining everything in my head that has been written.
Yeong-hye is in an ordinary marriage with Cheong and everything is going normal in their mundane life and then one day Yeong-hye has a dream and she decides to renounce eating meat. Her entire family tries its best but she is adamant and slowly starts embracing a more botanic existence, to an extent that she actually starts feeling that she is a tree!
The story has been narrated in 3 parts- from the point of view of her husband, her brother-in-law and her sister. As Yeong-Hye delves deeper and deeper into her “tree-self”, the results are more horrifying and you get to know thought process and psychological deviation of other characters in the story. The third part is a bit dragging, confusing and more abstract and all in all I must mention that the story will act as great plot for a psychological thriller movie.
Meanwhile, I must applaud the translator for a flawless, subtle and extremely profound translation into English from Korean. The choice of words is amazing and so is the flow of the story. The scenes described when Cheong Hye loses her mind refuses to eat have been described very graphically and the entire account is a meditation on suffering, grief and losing one’s mind. The story definitely puts forward many incidents that are completely open to interpretation and we did a good discussion over those in our group read.
5 stars because it was engaging, a page turner and something ‘completely weird and different’
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