I heard so many mixed opinions about this book that I couldn’t help myself not discovering what Han Kang, the South Korean author, has written in such a controversial manner.
Bitter-sweet but also cruel, the book hides in its lines the shattering destiny of a woman who feels that her body doesn’t belong to her anymore. More than that, her nightmares push her to adopt a dying food diet.
Long Story Short
In a usual morning of their 5th year of marriage, Cheong finds his wife, Yeong-hye, trashing all the animal products from their kitchen. After asking her about this unexpected behavior, she answers: “I had a dream.”
Beyond the physical decision of becoming a vegetarian, by giving up meat, the main character fights with her nightmares filled with blood and transforms herself in a ghost of the woman she used to be. All the family is against her decision and try to make her change up her mind firstly by words, then by pressing her both verbally and physically.
This book is strongly metamorphosed, from the refuse of eating animal products as a sign of liberty to the decision of starving, as an opposite symbol to feminism.
As a true light reason of her faith, the main character won’t stop repeating this: “So what, is it forbidden to dye?”
Don’t be distracted by the title. It is not about becoming a simple vegetarian, which is so in trend nowadays, but a much more profound story about the dark places in our mind.
Prizes: The author won in 2016 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE, a distinction much more appreciated than the Nobel one, which became less and less literal.
Also, the book has been screened in 2009, by the director Woo-Seong Lim.