Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vegetarian |  Han Kang  |  Literary Fiction  |  Published Feb. 2016  |  Pp. 192  |  Rating A+

I read this back in January, and realized that I hadn't posted a review on B.B. Toady.  I couldn't have that, because it was one of my top 3 favorite books of 2016.

The Publisher Says:

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.
A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

What I Say

The Vegetarian by Han Kang is a story about a persons's state of mind, the decision to let life go or to hold onto it, and our inability to truly understand one another. The story was written in and is set in South Korea and translated for publication in the US. It is a perfect example of a well translated piece as it reads flawlessly.

The whole theme of the story is that we are all capable of letting go of our sanity. It hinges on whether we find a reason to hold onto it or not. Our lives aren't so much about if we appear to have love, family, success in our work and home lives, etc., but whether we recognize it as such, and if it's enough to get us to hold on.

Han Kang nailed it when it comes to not only laying out a good story, but giving the reader something that sticks to the bones. This story crawled inside of me and wont let go. I think of all the times we all must have had to make the decision to plug along while our mind is telling us to let go. I think that we are mostly alike in that way.

The Vegetarian is dark and disturbing, and yet strangely beautiful at the same time, and it is the author's willingness to expose some of her deepest thoughts and vulnerabilities that make it so. I recommend this beautiful story to any of you who enjoy a story that seems too strange to be true, but probably isn't. I personally love all the oddity that borders on the reality of life that I can get. Thank you, Han Kang.

After reading The Vegetarian, I added Human Acts to My TBR


  1. I've been on the fence about this one, but you've just convinced me! Added to my list. Thanks.

    1. I can't wait to see what you think of it. I wish you all the depth of reading that I enjoyed with it.

  2. Great review! I’m reading this book for the DA Readathon next year. I can’t wait to get to it.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thank you, AJ. I'm glad you will be reading it, and look forward to reading what you think.

  3. This was a terrific albeit disturbing story. Happy Holidays.

    1. Yes, quite disturbing, but beautifully done.