Audiobook Review: The Vegetarian
A Rapid Review
Publisher: Random House Audio | February 2016
Format: Audio Download | 5¼ hours | Rating: 3 stars
Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith.
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate
A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.
After experiencing a disturbing nightmare, Yeong-hye makes the decision to stop eating meat. Her husband, her parents, and the rest of her family do not approve and wand her to resume a normal diet. They think she has gone mad and relentlessly harass and threaten her.
The story of The Vegetarian (actually she is vegan, but something may have been lost in the translation) is told in three parts, from three different points of view – more accurately three interconnected stories. I liked the first part which was told from the husband’s point of view. Despite not liking him one bit, I found it interesting and engaging.
The story got a little strange when we switched voices to Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law in part two, and confusing when we switched again in part three. This is a short book, and to discuss the what happens and who narrates would be too spoiler-y. All I’ll say is that by the end of the book, I no longer liked or cared about any of the characters; ultimately, I found them and their actions upsetting and disturbing. I thought I would like it because it was described as “psychologically twisted”, a genre I usually enjoy.
While this novel wasn’t for me, it would make for lively discussion as a book club pick.
Read by Janet Song and Stephen Park.
Stephen Park’s smooth delivery and soothing tones made this an easy listen. Janet Song’s voice for Yeong-hye captured the flat, even tone of a woman heading toward confusion and madness.
Source: Review copy provided by Random House Audio.
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