8/17 The Vegetarian

By Han Kang

Lol, this book is so weird, mate. It takes this very concrete choice (deciding to become a vegetarian) and that makes it so completely abstract and out there, that half the book I was just confused about how the hell we got here.

I would highly, highly recommend that you check the warnings before embarking on this book, because they’re really not kidding. This girl is not just vegetarian. She is vegetarian, and it has so many absurd implications on her, her life, her behaviour, her relationships, etc. And ultimately that’s because she is not vegetarian because she wants to be vegetarian, she is vegetarian because of the odd paradigm shift she experiences with regards to plants and how life is? (I end in a question mark because I’m still not sure.)

Like the previous Korean book, Please Look After Mom, it plays around with tense as well. (Which makes me wonder whether Korean as a language lends itself to play around with this? Because, generally, English books stick to the third person, or just one tense throughout.) Anyway, very bizarre. It’s still a family drama, oddly enough. The focus is still how first her husband, then brother-in-law, and finally sister cope with the changes she is experiencing. But the story very purposefully takes something mundane and makes it extreme, and that’s played with – I don’t know man. Hard to explain this book. I can’t even give it a rating proper, because it is very well written. But it didn’t really connect with me so much (maybe it would if I was actually vegetarian? You tell me what you think) despite all that.

8/17 The Vegetarian

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