Han Kang “The Vegetarian”
I had a Han Kang experience for the first time. Some of my Instagram friends fervently recommended her works, especially “The Vegetarian”, which was awarded with The Man Booker International Prize in 2016. After reading the story with earnest, I now understand why this story has been this ardently read internationally. When it comes to Korean films or books, the Oscar-winning “Parasite” has lately taken me by storm. However, this story in a way dwarfs “Parasite”. I was totally drawn to the plot with such twists and the powerful yet delicate narrative and voice of Han Kang.
This story consists of 3 parts, each of which can be read as an independent novella as well. The common motif underlying all these 3 is flowers and plants. First of all, I was impressed by the well-conceived narrators in each part. Although this story unfolds around the main protagonist Yeong-hye, who all of a sudden decides to be a vegetarian, each story is recounted by the people close to her: her husband, her brother-in-law, and her elder sister. It is obvious that her wanting to be a vegetarian is juxtaposed with ferocity, violence, and lust which animals and human beings represent. At last, the trees and forests burn like green-colored fireworks, which conjures up an image of intensity.
This story is such a page-turner with distinctive figurative language, the unexpected plotline, and beautifully crafted sentences. History, desire, loneliness, destruction, patriarchy, incest, art, insanity, ferocity, animals vs plants, regress vs progress, and other themes are interwoven with care and sensitivity.
I am now a huge fan of Han Kang. Thank you all for recommending this fantastic story to me!
Have you had Han Kang experiences yet?