Book Review | The Vegetarian by Han Kang: Weird

The Vegetarian - Han KangTitle: The Vegetarian
Author: Han Kang
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Hogarth
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 192


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.


This was a weird one for me. I’m really interested in South Korean literature, so when I found out that this book had been translated to English I had to get a hold of it. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by it, but I did have a couple things I liked.

The Vegetarian - Han Kang

What I Liked:

  • At the beginning, the book had a cool, creepy vibe to it; that feeling that something is going on beneath the surface.
  • Getting a general view of how vegetarianism is perceived in Korea.
    • I only have experience with the American view on vegetarianism, so it was really interesting to see how it is viewed by some in Korean culture.
  • In-hye’s section of the book.
    • The book is split into three sections that are told from three different viewpoints. One is told from Yeong-hye’s husband, one from Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law and one from Yeong-hye’s sister, In-hye.
    • I enjoyed reading In-hye’s section of the book the most. I actually felt a tinge of emotion when we reached the resolution which was a stark change from the confusion I felt throughout most of the book.
  • This isn’t about the contents of the book, but the cover is pretty gorgeous!

What I didn’t Like:

  • It was confusing. At times I found myself asking, “Why is this happening and how did we get here?”
  • The section narrated by Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law was weird — not in a good way — and made me feel uncomfortable. Sometimes it seemed purposeful, and sometimes it didn’t.
  • The “dream” parts of the book.
    • Yeong-hye decides to become a vegetarian because of a dream she has, and we get paragraphs dispersed throughout the book that piece together the dream for the reader.
    • I can tell what they were going for, but those parts weren’t executed very well. Towards the middle I started just skimming the dream bits.

After thinking about it, I can’t really tell what the author was trying to say with this book. If someone knows, please tell me because I’m lost.

Overall, I’d give The Vegetarian

2.5 Stars!

star-1    star-1    halfstar-1

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.


6 thoughts on “Book Review | The Vegetarian by Han Kang: Weird

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