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The Vegetarian by Han Kang
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The Vegetarian (2007)

by Han Kang

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,7572266,210 (3.59)1 / 277
  1. 21
    Human Acts: A Novel by Kang Han (whitsunweddings)
    whitsunweddings: It's briefly mentioned in The Vegetarian that the Artist is a 5.18 survivor. For those unfamiliar, Han Kang's book on the Gwangju Massacre gives context for the trauma that he - and Korea as a whole - went through.
  2. 10
    The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (MissBrangwen)
    MissBrangwen: Although they were written in different periods of time, both texts reminded me of each other because of their dealing with the female experience of confinement.
  3. 00
    Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Both books involve a mysterious woman and the perceptions, projections and assumptions about her by others.
  4. 01
    Blindness by José Saramago (owen1218)
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English (221)  Spanish (3)  German (1)  Piratical (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (229)
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
Started out strong, got weird, and then I just got kind of bored by the last quarter. Kind of a neat book over all but not something that will stick with me. ( )
  ZJB | Sep 4, 2019 |
I think this book was a little too weird for me to fully appreciate but I still felt it was well worth a read. ( )
  preetibee | Aug 31, 2019 |
This was just very strange. I am very glad it was a short listen. ( )
  audraelizabeth | Aug 28, 2019 |
An interesting book, one that delves deep into three of the characters, but although it caught my interest, it didn't really resonate with me. Perhaps cultural differences played a part, although at heart people and their relationships aren't all that different. Perhaps it was the lack of resolution at the end. Perhaps it was the lack of happiness and hope... the darkness is too complete and too close to reality. The brief blurb on the back of my copy was also somewhat misleading; it made it sound like this was a powerful, sensual and feminine tale. Instead it delves into darkness of spirit, illness, and the ways life can ensnare you. ( )
  AngelaJMaher | Aug 18, 2019 |
Disturbing but thought-provoking allegory for, what, mental illness? Social isolation and gendered expectations? Objectification and loss of agency Actual vegetarianism?? Like any good allegory it's kind of whatever you want to get out of it. It was creepy and moving and I finished in one sitting. ( )
  hatingongodot | Aug 12, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
The strength of Kang's voice is in her refusal to smoothen the rough edges of her characters - they bare their scars and innermost vulnerabilities and yet don't appear drawing sympathy.
 
What flows through "The Vegetarian" is an urgent need to detach oneself from the constraints of the human body, to transform and possibly transcend its limits completely.
 
“The Vegetarian” is an existential nightmare, as evocative a portrayal of the irrational as I’ve come across in some time.
 
But The Vegetarian isn’t an anti-meat manifesto or an uplifting story of emancipation. Instead, in dreamlike passages punctuated by bursts of startling physical and sexual violence, Kang viscerally explores the limits of what a human brain and body can endure, and the strange beauty that can be found in even the most extreme forms of renunciation.
 
At first, you might eye the title and scan the first innocuous sentence — “Before my wife turned vegetarian, I thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way” — and think that the biggest risk here might be converting to vegetarianism. (I myself converted, again; we’ll see if it lasts.) But there is no end to the horrors that rattle in and out of this ferocious, magnificently death-affirming novel.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Han Kangprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee, Ki-HyangTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, DeborahTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Before my wife turned vegetarian, I'd always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Yeong-Bye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-Bye, seeking a more 'plant-like' existence, commits a shocking act of subversion. As her rebellion manifests in ever more bizarre and frightening forms, Yeong-Bye spirals further and further into her fantasies of abandoning her fleshly prison and becoming - impossibly, ecstatically - a tree.
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"Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams--invasive images of blood and brutality--torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It's a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law, and her sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that's become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her but also from herself." -- jacket.

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