Dendrophilia

By The Economist online

The Vegetarian. By Han Kang. Translated by Deborah Smith. Hogarth; 192 pages; $21. Portobello; £7.99.

ONE of the most erotic literary novels of the season is a slim South Korean work about a woman who forsakes eating meat. On May 16th “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize (MBIP) for fiction after a fiercely contested final judges’ meeting that pitched books from Angola, Austria, China, Italy and Turkey, as well as South Korea. Translated by Deborah Smith, a young English scholar who began learning Korean only seven years ago, “The Vegetarian” has been praised on both sides of the Atlantic as strange, visionary and transgressive.

Written in three parts, each with a different narrator, the book begins quite plainly. “Before my wife turned vegetarian, I’d always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.” This subversive act, inspired by a dream, fractures the family life of the heroine, Yeong-hye. Her rebellion takes on increasingly bizarre and frightening forms. Seemingly ordinary relationships turn into a maelstrom of violence, shame and desire.

At the awards dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Boyd Tonkin, chairman of the 2016 MBIP judges, said: “In a style both lyrical and lacerating, [the story] reveals the impact of this great refusal…

Read more here:: The Economist – Culture