The vegetarian : a novel

by Han, Kang, 1970-

Format: Print Book 2015
Availability: Available at 9 Libraries 9 of 16 copies
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WINNER OF THE INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE * "[Han] 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."-- Entertainment Weekly

"Ferocious."-- The New York Times Book Review (Ten Best Books of the Year)
"Both terrifying and terrific."--Lauren Groff
"Provocative [and] shocking."-- The Washington Post

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 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, and 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.

Celebrated by critics around the world, The Vegetarian is a darkly allegorical, Kafka-esque tale of power, obsession, and one woman's struggle to break free from the violence both without and within her.

One of the Best Books of the Year-- BuzzFeed, Entertainment Weekly, Wall Street Journal, Time, Elle, The Economist, HuffPost, Slate, Bustle, The St. Louis Dispatch, Electric Literature, Publishers Weekly
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "When ordinary and submissive Yeong-hye becomes a vegetarian, her family treats her decision as both a disease and a betrayal. As they try to control her, their own manners deteriorate, culminating in violence, adultery, and estrangement. Yeong-hye becomes a Bartleby-like figure as her personal choice morphs into other acts of social rebellion, such as being shirtless in public or refusing to ingest anything but water. Korean writer Han Kang's elegant yet unsettling prose conveys her protagonist's brother-in-law's obsessive, art-centered lust; her sister's tepid, regret-riddled existence; and Yeong-hye's vivid, disturbing dreams. What is more upsetting is how the characters' taboo behavior begins to seem reasonable over time, perhaps because they have ignored their desires for so long. Divided into three novellas, The Vegetarian shows how one woman's step toward independence destroys a family that thrives on oppression and what they consider to be normal. Readers will want more of the author's shocking portrayals of our innermost doubts, beliefs, and longings.--Hyzy, Biz Copyright 2016 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Reviewed by Gabe Habash. You may think you know where Han's English-language debut novel is going, but you have no idea. At first, its mundane strangeness may remind you of the works of Haruki Murakami: Mr. Cheong, a Seoul businessman wakes up one night to find his wife, Yeong-hye, standing in the kitchen in front of their refrigerator. Mr. Cheong, who is drawn to Yeong-hye for no particular reason other than her passiveness, is taken aback. He's even more surprised when "the most ordinary woman in the world" declares she won't eat meat because she's had a bloody dream. Things get weirder, and you might be reminded of Patrick Süskind's Perfume, as Han's narrative takes a sharp turn in its second part-a tale of obsession, grotesque physicality, and art. Or, as the emotional and physical violence mounts, you might be reminded of Herman Koch's The Dinner for its depiction of the animal baseness lurking just below civility. And then things take a turn again, and Han's third and final part might remind you of Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life for its display of raw emotion. To go into much detail about how The Vegetarian is both similar to these other works yet also possesses its own singular wonder would do it a disservice. Suffice it to say, Mr. Cheong's true nature is revealed, and Yeong-hye's family members are soon swept up in her mysterious change, which manifests itself in increasingly odd ways: she begins to eat less and less, and then not at all, and she becomes fond of taking off her clothes on sunny days. The atmosphere of growing dread is entrancing and tense, and readers will find a bounty of bizarre, ominous images: an IV bag filling with blood, a bird squeezed in a fist, and a psychiatric ward in the forest where a gloomy rain is continually falling. There-I've already said too much. Yeong-hye, as the center of the novel, forces the other characters to confront what they really want, and to confront what this desire says about who they are. This is a horror story in its depiction of the unknowability of others-of the sudden feeling that you've never actually known someone close to you. It's also a decidedly literary story for its exploration of despair, inner unrest, and the pain of coming to understand yourself. There is much to admire in Han's novel. Its three-part structure is brilliant, gradually digging deeper and deeper into darker and darker places; the writing is spare and haunting; but perhaps most memorable is its crushing climax, a phantasmagoric yet emotionally true moment that's surely one of the year's most powerful. This is an ingenious, upsetting, and unforgettable novel. Gabe Habash is the deputy reviews editor of Publishers Weekly. © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Women -- Fiction.
Vegetarians -- Fiction.
Dreams -- Fiction.
Families -- Fiction.
Korea (South) -- Fiction.
Psychological fiction.
Domestic fiction.
Publisher London ; New York :Hogarth,2015
Edition First U.S. edition.
Other Titles Ch'aesikchuŭija.
Contributors Smith, Deborah (Translator), translator.
Language English
Notes Translation of: Ch'aesikchuŭija.
"Originally published in Korean as three separate novelettes and then combined into a novel"--Title page verso.
Description 188 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN 9780553448184
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