52 Books: The Vegetarian

I’m really rolling now: three books in the first week of March!

Book 18 is Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.  This is another novel that’s composed of three separate “novellas” (long short stories, really, about 60 pages each) that all center around a center character who becomes vegetarian.  Each novella is told from a different character’s point of view: the vegetarian’s husband, the vegetarian’s sister’s husband, and the vegetarian’s sister.  The vegetarian’s point of view is explored only in the first part when the dreams she has that makes her become vegetarian are explored.  It’s a pretty trippy exploration of (in)sanity, South Korean culture, patriarchy, and god knows what else.  I recommend reading some of the reviews, like The Guardian’s and the NY Times‘, to get a better idea of what this novel does.*

It’s an amazing book that almost caused an argument between Amanda and I: I was completely engrossed in the family fight in the first section and wanted to keep reading while Amanda wanted me to put some pants on.  So we could catch a movie on Towson’s campus.  And just like how each section of The Diving Pool had a different timbre, each section of this book had a completely different feel–due, no doubt, to the fact that we were in a completely different character’s head for each section.  And, while the first two sections were captivating, I did feel a loss of steam by the last section as we come to understand the vegetarian’s final fate and are left to wonder about her sister.  Still, don’t let that put you off on reading this.  It’s a quick read, and it’s really good.

* Although, after The Diving Pool, I don’t think this book is nearly as transgressive as the NY Times reviewer, Porochista Khakpour, says it is.

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