Set in Seoul, South Korea, The Vegetarian begins when a woman named Yeong-hye begins having disturbing dreams filled with blood and rotting meat. Soon, her decision to adopt a vegetarian diet — and her refusal to cook meat for her husband — begins disrupting her family's daily lives.
Told through the perspectives of Yeong-hye's husband, brother-in-law, and sister, this short novel explores themes of personal agency, gender, marriage, art, and mental illness.
“She was no longer able to cope with all that her sister reminded her of. She'd been unable to forgive her for soaring alone over a boundary she herself could never bring herself to cross, unable to forgive that magnificent irresponsibility that had enabled Yeong-hye to shuck off social constraints and leave her behind, still a prisoner. And before Yeong-hye had broken those bars, she'd never even known they were there.”
Han Kang is a South Korean novelist, poet, and professor. She has won the Yi Sang Literary Award, the Young Artist Award, and the Manhae Literary Prize, and The Vegetarian received the Man Booker International Prize in 2016.
Length: 188 pages
Set in: Seoul, South Korea
Translated by: Deborah Smith