The Vegetarian By Han Kang and Translated By Deborah Smith

There’s no surprise that this was another book that I actually read back in March and have just only just got round to reviewing on here. But nonetheless this book was still a brilliant read and a perfect addition to your August TBRs for Women in Translation Month (#WITMonth) If your still looking for recommendations.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang and translated by Deborah Smith centres on (official blurb): “Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more ‘plant-like’ existence, decides to become a vegetarian, prompted by grotesque recurring nightmares. In South Korea, where vegetarianism is almost unheard-of and societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision is a shocking act of subversion. Her passive rebellion manifests in ever more bizarre and frightening forms, leading her bland husband to self-justified acts of sexual sadism. His cruelties drive her towards attempted suicide and hospitalisation. She unknowingly captivates her sister’s husband, a video artist. She becomes the focus of his increasingly erotic and unhinged artworks, while spiralling further and further into her fantasies of abandoning her fleshly prison and becoming – impossibly, ecstatically – a tree.  Fraught, disturbing and beautiful, The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.”

When I had finished reading The Vegetarian the first thought that came to my mind was the fact that this book really packed a punch! The Vegetarian was the second book I have read by Han Kang, the first being The White Book and I can most certainly say that not only is she quickly becoming an auto-buy but also a go to author for me. Her writing style is simply beautiful and I loved how The Vegetarian tackled important themes and topics such as vegetarianism, subordination, the female body, male entitlement, what happens when a woman fights back, mental health, freedom, etc.

The Vegetarian was lyrical yet also perfectly atmospheric and haunting. Throughout my whole reading experience of this book I felt a wave of emotions that continued to be present even after my reading experience finished. The range of emotions I felt where just as bizarre as this book. One minute you could feel the anger bubbling up inside yourself, the next you felt completely bewildered and not completely sure what was going to happen next and finally you felt at peace.

Ultimately, The Vegetarian was devastating, tragic and utterly fascinating!

It’s your body, you can treat it however you please. The only area where you’re free to do just as you like. And even that doesn’t turn out how you wanted.

The Vegetarian, Han Kang

(Photo is my own please do not copy/take without permission first.)

2 responses to “The Vegetarian By Han Kang and Translated By Deborah Smith

  1. Pingback: August 2021 Wrap-Up | Where there's Ink there's Paper·

  2. Pingback: Favourite Books of 2021 | Where there's Ink there's Paper·

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