The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vegetarian

This was a story, originally three interconnected stories, about obsession and renunciation, I think. It was tough going. This begins as the story of Yeong-hye from the viewpoint of her almost comically unsympathetic husband, Mr. Cheong. Her life (and, in his view, his life) is transformed by a traumatic dream that causes her to not eat meat anymore. This leads to separation from her husband and alienation from her family with the exception of her sister, In-hye, who looks in on her while her health declines until her own no-good husband becomes enamored of Yeong-hye and incorporates her into a bizarre video performance art piece that leads to the two of them sleeping together, which is immediately discovered by In-hye. Then Yeong-hye is institutionalized and In-hye cares for her till the end. In-hye was the only character I felt much interest in–she’s followed her own more conventional/socially acceptable dream of owning a cosmetics store. But it was a quick read, and there was little temptation to slow down.

Availability:  SMCM, COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Eric Blomquist
Rating: Not Recommended
Challenge: A book from the 2017 Tournament of Books and a translated book.

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