The Vegetarian – Han Kang

The_vegetarian_-_han_kangThis month’s book was this years winner of the Man Booker International Prize – The Vegetarian by Han Kang – which, interestingly, required the rules to be changed so that the prize could be accepted by both the author Han Kang and the translator Deborah Smith.

The general vote for this book was a positive one this month, it really is a beautiful, although sad, story – no one could say they were happy after reading even though it was technically an enjoyable read.

The story centres on Yeong-hye and is told in three parts through the eyes of her husband, her brother in law, and her sister. Although Yeong-hye is the main focus of the story, we do not see it through her eyes, we find out what others think of her and her actions, and how she affects others.

The novel starts out with her becoming a vegetarian and shows us how frowned upon the lifestyle is in South Korea, however it quickly becomes a commentary on mental illness rather than vegetarianism, and really teaches you a lot about the culture in South Korea, such as the submissiveness of women, and the hierarchical positions in the family and society in general.

Overall it is a great read, a passionate story and absolutely beautiful!

We currently meet at Holmeside Coffee on the third Wednesday of the month at 6.30pm, and in July we will be discussing The Waiting Room by F.G Cottam – hope to see you there!

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