- 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 Audiobook – Unabridged
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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.
The story is told from 3 points of view, husband, brother-in-law and sister. Their focus is Yeong-hye, a woman who one has a bad dream and decides from that day forward she will no longer eat meat or wear anything animal related. This is not just about food, it's about culture, male domination, abuse, freedom and so much more. It's about a woman who finally must fight the evils of those surrounding her, in order to be heard, to become her own person, move forward from her past and it's not an easy process by any means.
There are disturbing acts in this book, you may like me, dislike the characters, in particular Yeong-hye's selfish, uncaring husband and her brother-in-law who takes advantage of her instability. This is not a book you can read once. It's definitely something that will need to be read multiple times to complete understand everything.
Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes, but only for those who can read this with an open mind. This is a translated work so sometimes the story was a little off but while it's a short book, you need to take your time with it.
The wife’s refusal to eat meat, and her descent into madness, reminds me of two short stories, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” and “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” Like Bartleby, the wife’s refusal to comply with an authority figure's orders becomes a metaphor for rejecting the assumed reality of society’s conventions. Like “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” the wife is suffocated by her marriage and can only rebel by embracing insanity, which of course throws a wrench into the husband’s life of façade and convention. Everyone gangs up on the wife to coerce her back to a meat-eating lifestyle. Even her own mother threatens her and at one point screams, “Look at yourself, now! Stop eating meat, and the world will devour you whole.”
The themes of society’s complicity with sanctioned cruelty toward animals and oppression against women feel real and not like a shrill militant polemic on feminism and animal cruelty. The themes grow out of the novel’s original vision, one drawn from a weird insane logic. The tone of the novel is riveting and reads like a horror novel. This is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
I give this book 3.5 stars which rounds up to 4.
This was an interesting book.Read more