The Vegetarian by Han King [Book Review]

The VegetarianThe Vegetarian by Han Kang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m sure I’m not the first to feel this way but this was a weird book. A lot of the imagery is what sticks with me even a couple months after reading it. I have mental images of a woman standing in the woods in the rain. I also recall elaborate body painting. I recall – early on in the book – an abusive husband (at least how I read it) and father. If I had to pick one word for this book it would be: disturbed.
But not in the traditional sense. I just felt deeply unsettled by it in a way I can’t really describe. I had heard – before reading it – a lot about violent imagery but I couldn’t say that was my experience. The best way I can analyze it is that it is like a japanese horror story. It is all mental. It doesn’t rely on gore or cheap gags. It gets at your core.
And that’s what I enjoyed about the book.
The rest, the style and storytelling, left something to be desired. It sticks in my head as a cohesive story, and a powerful one at that, but the three parts – all told by different narrators – while it was good that they felt very distinct, felt disjointed. I was most put off by the style but that could have been something in the translation.
I definitely enjoy this book more in retrospect and it isn’t one I’ll soon forget but as usual – with a book this hyped – I expected to like it more.

View all my reviews

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