reviewed The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Han Kang: The Vegetarian (2017, imusti, Granta Books) 4 stars

Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions …

Culturally translatable ascetism

5 stars

This was a difficult book to finish. I wanted to finish it, for about a week, but the last 50 or so pages are emotionally harrowing. Hard work.

Stylistically beautiful. Terse and without any extraneous detail, it reads a bit like a ascetic philosophical exploration of decisions in society.

A lot of other reviews (and the blurb above) focus on the book's setting in Korea -- traditionally meat-heavy diet, traditionally rigid patriachal family structure etc. I didn't find this -- apart from the names of people (which are few) and the descriptions of food, there is very little to locate this book in space or time beyond being somewhat modern.