You know, you read certain books and they just ruthlessly keep you captive? Well, this is one of those books. Not to mention the cover. The silhouette of the woman looking upwards (as though yearning to be absorbed by nature itself) and the shadows of the little vines around her (as if willing her to become one of them) remains etched in your very eye balls for a long time.
There are three parts to it and I’d like to express my take on it like wise.
Part 1: The Vegetarian.
This is the part about which the whole plot revolves or more precisely put, the part the author takes us back and forth with respect to, all through the novel.
The beginnings of suffering explained so well that you go in to a chaotic state of mind yourself. Kang makes sure you don’t immediately empathise with the protagonist. Because just like her husband, you don’t understand why and what exactly it is that’s happening to her. (After thought: But that doesn’t stop you from judging him for the jerk he is.)
Part 2: Mongolian Mark.
This part of the novel revolves around how we humans wouldn’t ever understand how human minds work.
Where do we draw inspiration from?
What can trigger imagination?
What leads to what?
No one knows because it’s different for every person and that’s the beauty of it.
Also, how feelings could go astray and out of your control and topple the lives of both you and everyone associated with you in a nano second like a house of cards, is beautifully explained and you inevitably go in to an over drive of pain.
Part 3: Flaming Trees.
And then comes the part where someone tries to make everything fall in to place knowing full well that everything could never be the same again. She didn’t, however, let that get in the way of trying. In-hye, Yoeng-hye’s elder sister.
Endurance. This part is all about that one word.
“Never underestimate the power of a common man.” – is a famous dialogue from a famous Indian movie. Common man. What exactly does it mean?
Because no two people are the same.
Because not everything can be common about any two people.
Because every person has his/her own battles to be fought.
Because you don’t know how life is treating others.
Because only you know what you are going through.
The author shows the reader how much of your adult life (or in Yoeng-hye’s case, adult existence) is affected by your childhood experiences.
Note to Indians: Studies suggest that we Indians are a bunch of people who are freakishly concerned about our physical health. Meanwhile we sit still, so still, as though carved out of stone if and/or when our mental health goes down the gutters.
The translation : I did not, for a minute cringe at the translation like I usually would. Call me naive, but I wouldn’t have known it was a translation I was reading if I hadn’t gone through some of the amazing reviews out there.
Once you’ve read this book, for a while you won’t be able to take another. (Trust me, I’ve been there. As a matter of fact, still there.) It just stays with you. You go in to waking dreams and you can’t stop rambling about it to anyone who’d give you a minute of their concentration.