‘The Vegetarian’, an international bestseller written by South Korean writer Han Kang, won the Man Booker Prizes – one of the three most world’s renowned literary awards – at 2016 and had been translated into more than 20 languages. This was also the most frequently lent book from the library for the athletes during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Then what makes this book so interesting?
In this book, Han Kang questions a society and its role through her protagonist Yeong-Hye. She also talks about feminism in a Korean society, which is quite conservative and patriarchic. Unlike any other protagonists from other social-related novels, Yeong-Hye doesn’t try to fight back any social injustice yet neither does she obey, which makes the story so powerful.
Yeong-Hye, once a perfect housewife and an obedient daughter, renounces eating meat all of a sudden because of the dreams she was having recently. She dreams of a slaughter every day, which she takes main part of, until she wakes up. She even avoids her husband as he smells like “meat”.
As the days pass, Yeong-Hye’s condition worsens. Her husband, who is her legal guardian, remains ignorant about the issue until she embarrasses him in front of his colleagues during his boss’s party. Then, he calls her family for help.
Even her family cannot make her see sense. Her father forces, slaps and threatens her to eat meat whereas her mother tries to fool her into eating a soup with a meat in it. Even though their method might be different, the fact is that no one tries to talk with her. They only say what they want to say; what they want her to do.
‘The Vegetarian’ comprises of 3 stories including ‘The Vegetarian’, ‘Mongolian Mark’ and ‘Flaming Trees’. I strongly recommend you read this book because this book intrigues you to think again about injustices that we see in our daily lives but went away unnoticed as it had always been like that.
Also, this book’s writer Han Kang was nominated for her second Man Booker Prize for her new novel ‘The Elegy of Whiteness’, which talks about the beauty of a white that can never be tainted and how it is fading for 2018 Man Booker Prize. Though Olga Tokarczuk won this year for his novel ‘Flights’, I want to congratulate her for not only always trying on new styles of writing but also not losing her own identity and challenging herself with topics that can be highly controversial.
Her book is well-known for being poetic, too. She compares to her writing to sewing since it takes a long time to put her words together into a beautiful texture. After that, she dyes it with the mixture of colors that not many would be willing to use for theirs. Needless to say, her book would be the best choice for starters who are interested in social phenomenon but also want to enjoy the fun of reading.