The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The friend who lent me this book said she read it knowing nothing about the book beforehand, not what the book was about, not where the author was from, not even if the author was a woman or man, and she suggested I do the same. But its not that easy with books, even if I were more inclined to blind dates, which I am not. It’s not the same as sitting down on front of the TV with a bowl of pot noodles and catching a random movie 10 minutes in. You have the title. You have the author’s name and immediate associations. You have the blurb and decontextualised praise from newspapers or other authors, the choice of which says much and influences your expectations. There’s the cover design, the colour and presence or lack of glitter. Plus, of course, working in a bookshop, and generally being interested in books, its difficult not to have heard something about books worth reading; and if its not worth reading, then why bother at all?

So while I know very little about The Vegetarian and Han Kang, I have heard of it, I know it’s by an Asian author (Korean?), I don’t know if it’s a him or her, and I know its about family dynamics bigger than just the fact that the protagonist has decided to become vegetarian. The cover is pretty. There is minimal glitter.

-Reading the Why



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