- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 5 hours and 14 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: February 2, 2016
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01AKPER5I
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Vegetarian: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
"The Vegetarian" centers on Yeong-hye, a housewife in South Korea, who after a series of vivid but unresolved dreams becomes repulsed by meat and opts to become a vegetarian. The first section of the book, narrated by her husband, shows the deep divisions this creates within her marriage, both within the boundaries of her home, but also externally as the wife of businessman within South Korean society. There are two dramatically powerful scenes in the first section, one at a dinner event with business partners of her husband, and another at a family meal. Both encounters bring the consequences of non-conformity in South Korea and the emotional and physical violence visited upon the non-conformist.
In the second section, Yeong-hye's brother-in-law, an aspiring visual video artist, narrates the story which centers around sexual and artistic deviation in a very traditional and conservative society. While the third section is told from the vantage point of Yeong-hye's sister as she comes to grips with the consequences of her sister's decision have had on her marriage, her relationship with her parents, her husband and ultimately her sister. She ultimately comes to question her own pre-existing views on conforming to societal and cultural norms, the price one pays for doing so and how to think of a life well lived in such an environment that represses greater self-expression and identity.
"The Vegetarian" is a very thought provoking novel, beautifully written and translated that tackles broader societal questions in a personal and intimate way.
This was a difficult one. It’s very dark with an almost constant feeling of dread hovering over it. But the story is truly gripping, not to mention that trying to work out the author’s agenda kept me turning the pages despite myself. It touches on so many large social issues – gender, conformity, moral accountability, as well as more personal things like family relationships, abuse, violence, rage and self-image.
Yeong-hye is repeatedly victimized, in various ways, by men who are either manipulative, predatory or just plain cruel. Yeong-hye’s husband is an utterly conventional corporate striver, so her inability to conform to his expectations and societal norms ultimately destroys their marriage. As an artist, her brother-in-law views himself as an outsider and projects his dark, lustful fantasies onto her in pursuit of his vision. And her sister struggles with guilt over their upbringing with a monstrous father who singled Yeong-hye out for abuse.
It’s tough to summarize one thing that this deceptively slim little volume speaks to; just when I thought I had a handle on the author’s over-arching “message” or theme, the book changed direction slightly and had me thinking about something else entirely. However, there is one particular instance of cruelty from Yeong-hye’s childhood (one of the few passages told from her POV) that strongly suggests her vegetarianism and wish to reject her humanity is a form of atonement for her role in a completely horrific act of cruelty, however powerless she was to stop it. But the story also illustrates how one person’s refusal to conform can have a domino effect on those around them - and how that might be viewed by many as destructive to the fabric of society. The writing is extremely confident and impactful. The author makes you almost believe in the plausibility of Yeong-hye’s physical transformation because her conviction seems so unimpeachable and her desire so ardent. This is a heartbreaking book that works on so many levels and touches on so many themes.
Depressing, but worth it.