Preview/Review: The Vegetarian by POC Writer Han Kang

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Specs of The Vegetarian by POC Writer Han Kang  

  • 188 pages
  • Published by Hogarth, a Random House division, in 2007
  • Translated from the Korean to English
  • Fiction, novel

Summary of on The Vegetarian by POC Writer Han Kang

A seemingly ordinary woman decides to turn vegetarian. Her simple choice affects her family members who all see her decision as harmful and inconvenient.

Yeong-Hye is haunted by nightmares that prompt the decision to denounce meat. In doing so, she finds an unusual and unfamiliar amount of strength, so startling to her family. But the more she fights to protect her choice, the more her relationships unravel. And all the screws that kept her together become undone, slowly revealing her true self.

Before You Read The Vegetarian by POC Writer Han Kang

The book is separated into three parts. The first is told through the perspective of Yeong-Hye’s husband Mr. Cheong. The second reframes from Yeong-Hye’s brother-in-law’s POV. The third and final part focuses from Yeong-Hye’s older sister’s viewpoint.

There are some Korean words in the novel, but overall, it was quite easy to read all things considered. In fact, I found it interesting how little the Korean-ness played into the novel. I don’t know whether or not that is the proper thing to say, but it’s my first impression. Apart from the names and a few vocabulary pieces scattered throughout, it was hard to imagine the book any other way, in any other language other than English.

Thoughts on The Vegetarian by POC Writer Han Kang

This is one of those books where environment really plays a minimal role. I come to think of The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. The location of the characters does little for story; it’s as though the plot could unfold anywhere. That being said, this novel is complicated and alluring. It is both dark and gripping. It is unexpected.

I think it shares notes with the works of Chuck Palanhiuk—a little creepy, a little weird and totally engaging in all the right ways.

This isn’t a story filled with pretty words or poetic phrases as much as it is about character and psychological degeneration. However, it is crafted in such a thoughtful and precise way. It was a rush to read, and something, I feel, that can only be experienced once. 

Other Reviews on The Vegetarian by POC Writer Han Kang

NY Times


Huffington Post



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