Published: February 2, 2016 (first published Oct. 30, 2007)
“When a person undergoes such a drastic transformation, there’s simply nothing anyone else can do but sit back and let them get on with it.”
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.
The Vegetarian is a mixture of philosophy and literature. It is one of my favorite kinds of book. The plot itself is interesting and unique. The words used by the author are simple yet the meaning that the book is trying to relate to the reader is deep. It would make you contemplate and wonder. I like the air that the whole book is giving.
The book is divided into 3 parts taken from the different points of view of different characters. The way the author relates the characters in the story and their worries is brilliant. The plot also revolves around the psychological state of characters. The author surely shows the effect of previous events that happens in their life and how it affects the characters in the present.
My only problem with this book is the transition. The transition between the three parts is okay. However, like I said earlier, the author also shows the effect of their past life and the transition of flashbacks and present events are a bit blurred if you ask me. One moment you are reading about the present, then the next you would be thrust back to the past. It would take you a moment to realize that the character is already drifting to his/her past. One more thing, the ending. I feel like the book ended abruptly. But other than that, I like the story as a whole.
Plus, the author is Asian. I feel like not many Asian authors are given much credit for their works. Definitely give it a try! Highly recommending this book!