Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.
A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.
It is interesting reading the first part of this having been a vegetarian for so long because it has some experiences of when I first started (even though, she would actually be classified as a vegan). It made me think about my vegetarianism which is something I haven’t read about that much or at all. Honestly, it is not really about her just being a vegetarian for that long. This book is really about mental illness, trauma, and misogyny.
I enjoyed the varying states that this book showed of misogyny and mental health
In the two different mental health states one person is considered outside bounds of mental illness aka they seem ok so they aren’t the ones who look like they need help. Then you have someone who obviously in societies eyes needs help.
When I first started this book the heavy-handed misogyny bothered me. I don’t have a problem with it being portrayed but it felt so obvious. I felt showing misogyny that is more quiet and everyday would actually help to challenge misogyny. I do feel that later on it did show a form of everyday misogyny.
Obvious misogyny ~ sees a woman as anything more than an object or vessel for him and has no remorse about it.
Everyday misogyny/nice guy misogyny ~ quieter but just as vicious if not even more because the character has moments of empathy that even in my eyes made me think so many times he was going to do the right thing. He knew things were wrong and felt bad about it but kept doing said things. The result ended up being the same with the first misogynist.
I really liked the surreal/weird parts and wish that this book was longer to talk more fully on these topics.
The misogyny still felt like it went in ways that were in your face vs quieter but it is short so that may be why. I did not like the ending because it left me feeling like the story really wasn’t over. The Vegetarian could have easily been longer.
I did not like the ending because it left me feeling like the story really wasn’t over. However, I can’t say I dislike it because in a way I respect the ending. I respect the way it did not give easy answers when dealing with mental illness.
Overall, I liked it and was sucked into it for two days but when it ended I kind of felt like o.k. that’s it.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
[synopsis is from goodreads]