Thinking about The Vegetarian, a few vivid moments spring to mind. A woman sitting half-naked as the sun glitters off her chest in a hospital garden. A father forcing meat into his daughter’s mouth, arms held down. The sweat and silence throughout videotaped sex, bodies painted with golden flowers. Handstands by a window. Indeed Han Kang says her love of visual art must ‘creep’ into her writing. Yet fundamentally, The Vegetarian is a brilliant story about one woman’s choice to become a vegetarian, and the shocking consequences within a conservative society. Reading this made me think critically about human relationships with food and nature, about gendered expectations, and about what constitutes ‘insanity’. I wanted Yeong-hye to live as peacefully as a tree, but I also wanted her to simply live.
Set in South Korea.
Translated by @londonkoreanist.
Recommended by @rhiannakemi.
Buy the book here.